Base Details

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Base Details
Siegfried Sassoon's epic war poem "Base Details" focuses on a soldier's bitterness toward the fact that old men wage war while young men fight it. Sassoon uses various literary devices to express his anger toward such injustice. The main ones being rhyme, strong connotative words and especially diction. The speaker, a soldier in World War I, contemplates what it would be like to be an officer in during war. By using a sarcastic and cynical tone, he is effectively able to condemn war.

The beginning of the poem sets the tone and mood of the poem. The speaker uses highly connotative words to convey sarcasm. For example, in the first line of the poem he uses the words "…fierce, bald, and short of breath…" to describe a stereotypical World War I officer. Such words portray officers as old, out of shape, and therefore not fierce. He refers to the officers as "scarlet Majors". The color scarlet representing their alcoholic ways, angry demeanor and the young blood they have shed. They are responsible for "speeding glum heroes up the line of the death". These "heroes" being uninspired and reluctant young soldiers who are offered nothing more than death.

In lines 4- 8, the speaker intensifies his harsh criticism of military officers, thus further examining the bitterness soldiers have for the men who risk young men in war. He uses the words "…puffy, petulant face…" to criticize their indulgent demeanor. "…guzzling and gulping in the finest hotels…" they drink and sleep to their hearts delight, consuming the soldiers' scarce rations. Yet, with false sympathy they cynically say "…poor young chap…I used to know his father well…" To them, death is simply a number that must be reduced as a means of winning the war. War is simply a job. The soldiers saves is most heightened sarcasm for the last couplet.

The final couplet of the poem, a rhyme, maximizes the soldiers' bitterness toward the officers. In lines 9 and 10 the poet disparages the officer's...
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