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A Working Party Essay, Research Paper

This poem is about a ‘normal’, ‘average’ man who came to the trenches only 3 hours before, and then is killed as he is doing his job of piling sandbags along the parapet.Throughout this poem, Sassoon appeals to the emotions of the reader by trying to create an emotional attachment between the reader and the young man. He explains that “He was a young man, with a meagre wifeAnd two small children in a Midland town;He showed their photographs to all his mates,And they considered him a decent chapWho did his work and hadn’t much to say,And always laughed at other people’s jokesBecause he hadn’t any of his own.”Sassoon deliberately describes the man clearly and significant detail, which makes the reader realise that this man was just a normal man, probably not unlike the reader, and makes the reader see the pure tragedy when the man dies. “He was just a simple man, who never did anything to hurt anyone” is the response Sassoon wants the reader to have, and feel the injustice of the man’s death.Sassoon specifically starts the poem off slowly, describing the men slowly making their way down the trenches, slipping into the mud and squeezing past other soldiers returning from the front line. Then, he ironically rushes the man’s death in the last two lines, after the man is thinking how slow time passes. The man’s sudden death shocks the reader and shows them how suddenly life can be taken away.”And as he dropped his head the instant splitHis startled life with lead, and all went out.”Throughout the poem, Sassoon uses excellent descriptions to involve the reader in the ‘action’ of the poem, and with the man. He clearly describes the men making their way down the trench towards the front line – “Sliding and poising, groping with his boots”, “…splashing wretchedly where the sludge was ankle deep”. Language like this almost takes the reader there, and again makes the reader identify with the character. Sassoon also uses the same strong descriptions of the area to make the reader feel like they are in the trenches along with the man – “Sandbags bleached with rain”, “… pawed sodden sandbags of chalk”, “White faces peered, puffing a point of red”, “… the gloom swallowed…”. He uses references to colour, texture and sound to give the reader an understanding of what it felt like to be there.Throughout this poem, Sassoon makes his intention towards the war very clear. His feelings towards the futility of war and the waste of life that war brings about is made clear through his excellent use of his language and the way he makes the reader feel as if they know the man in the poem. This makes the impact of the subject’s death even more realistic to the reader, and gives them a brief glimpse of what it is like to loose a friend.


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