Battle of the Ants

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Ana Garcia
Battle of the Ants

Everyone is familiar with the fact that as long as there have been civilizations, war has existed. At first glance, Henry David Thoreau’s “The Battle of the Ants” seems like a short descriptive story of a battle between two different species of ants, one red and one black, but through deeper analysis, one could see that Thoreau uses the ants and their battle as a satire for human conflict. Thoreau chooses to use ants as a metaphor to make it clear to the reader that war is pointless, and a waste of life in general. “The Battle of the Ants” begins with Thoreau casually walking out to his wood-pile as he stumbles upon the battle between the red ants and the black ants. After this, he compares these ants to humans, making it apparent from the start. “It was the only battle which I have ever witnessed… On every side they were engaged in deadly combat, yet without any noise that I could hear, and human soldiers never fought so resolutely” (575). Thoreau uses hyperbole early in his essay to reinforce the anti-war theme as he describes the fighting ants to be in the middle of war. However, he implies that this war isn’t too important by reminding the reader that the battle is between two simple insects.Thoreau goes on to describe an even smaller battle he witnesses between two ants, again, amid the chips, giving more scope to the idea that war is irrelevant compared to the more important themes of the world. “I watched a couple that were fast locked in each other’s embraces, in a little sunny valley amid the chips, now at noonday prepared to fight till the sun went down, or life went out… They fought with more pertinacity than bulldogs” (575). Thoreau also manages to include more comparisons in the passage, such as one being a comparison between the ants and bulldogs, in turn, a comparison between human war and the persistent determination of animals, which obviously do not have the mental capacity that humans do. In this passage,...
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