Literary Analysis of When the Elephants Dance

Topics: World War II, Abuse, Japan Pages: 7 (2941 words) Published: April 29, 2013
Jonathan Garcia
English 4

It is always said that people die for their flag, but like Howard Zinn says, “There is no flag large enough to cover the shame of killing innocent people.” During World War 2 the Philippines, one of the most innocent countries, was brutally murdered, raped, and tortured. As the battlefield between the United States and Japan the Philippines received the trauma of the war without any of the recognition. The Philippines were considered a “neutral” country during the war, yet they lost an estimated 6.6 percent of their population. (Howard) It was a tragedy to barely hear of such a massacre where innocent people were injured physically and mentally due to a war they were not even a part of in the first place. The book , When the Elephants Dance by Tess Uriza Holthe, follows innocent people through their horrific experiences that they had to go through during World War 2. The innocent characters have to live through anguish from being raped, having their children mistreated, and being dehumanized. Tess Uriza Holthe, in When The Elephants Dance, captures the dreadful reality that war harms the most innocent.

When the Elephants Dance by Tess Uriza Holthe provides horrible stories of innocent women being mistreated by men. During World War 2 when the Philippines were invaded by Japan, thousands of women were raped. They had nothing to do with guerrillas and were not an enemy to the Japanese army. Nevertheless, any woman caught by the Japanese army would usually end up being raped or even killed. In Isabelle’s story, she describes her experience with sexual assault. Isabel is taken to a motel when the Japanese captures her. She hears other girls getting raped and she knows that will also be her fate. Isabelle is still a virgin, which represents how pure and innocent she is. She is an innocent young lady whose only wrong was trying to find food for her family, yet she was captured and a big part of her life was taken away from her by force. “I become detached from my own skin. I am a virgin no more, I repeat to myself. People will know this when they see me. I look into their eyes, but there is nothing, no hope, no compassion, only hate and blackness. I see the face of war.” When you are raped you are dehumanized. That is why she says she “become[s] detached from [her] own skin”, she feels filthy and ashamed that “people will know” when they see her. She was innocent to say the very least. She describes war through her being raped by saying “I look into their eyes, but there is nothing, no hope, no compassion, only hate and blackness. I see the face of war”. Isabelle is saying that just like her rape, war has “no hope, no compassion, only hate”. That is why she sees “the face of war”. Innocent people like her were raped and mistreated during World War 2. Throughout the years, rape has been used as a tactic used by governments during war to infiltrate terror and destroy culture. While Isabel describes how rape is a consequence of war, her story also discusses the dismal and apathy women also faced. In Isabel’s story, Isabel helps and basically saves Domingo’s life. He finds him all wounded and helps him up. He does not thank her. Once they are at a base of his guerrilla camp he meets a women. It was his lover. Isabel was stunned to know that he is cheating on Ate Lorna, his wife. “I feel the irritation in me growing, pushing through the thickness of my exhaustion. I helped him here just so he could betray Ate Lorna with this tramp.” The fact that Domingo is seen as a hero in the book, illustrates how the mistreatment of women is seen as inevitable. Isabelle feels very angry because she “helped him here just so he could betray Ate Lorna”. Domingo has a wife and a son at home, which makes “the irritation in [Isabel] grow, pushing through the thickness of her exhaustion”. Isabelle risked getting caught by the Japanese and helped Domingo who she thought was a good person. Now she feels betrayed...
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