The Psychological and Emotional Trauma of War

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When we hear stories about soldiers and about war, it’s usually about patriotism for one’s country, their duty, the bravery of the soldier who died in battle, and the pride at a soldier’s return. The story that is not typically heard is what it really feels like to put on a uniform, go to war, and come home. The psychological and emotional trauma these young men and women face in war is nothing short of moral anguish.

This is evident in Haruki Murakami’s gruesome story, “Another Way to Die.” Here is a lieutenant struggling with the barbaric orders he was given to execute three prisoners with a bayonet and a fourth prisoner with a baseball bat. Throughout the story the lieutenant would often repeating his orders and muse over the senselessness of the act. In sum, he says, “What the hell good is it going to do to kill these guys? …adding a few bodies to the count isn’t going to make any difference. But orders are orders. I am a soldier and I have to follow orders” (1039). Ultimately, the lieutenant employs another soldier to execute the final prisoner with a baseball bat. Perhaps this is an example of the lieutenant’s inability to go against his moral fiber. He does his duty by making sure the order is carried out, but he cannot do it himself.

As one can only imagine, it can be difficult to bludgeon someone to death. This soldier, ordered to carry out the task, had never even held a baseball bat before. Yet, they were all surprised when the prisoner, “with his last drop of life,” sat up, “as if he had fully come awake” and then grab on to the veterinarian standing nearby (1041). The lieutenant had to fire his gun for the first time ever at a human being. However, he chose not to think about it until after the war was over. How could he? Certainly he wouldn’t be able to do his duty if he let his morals get in the way.

In Frank O’Connor’s story, “Guests of a Nation,” one can assume that duty would become obsolete-Especially since the prisoners and captors had...
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