"Pluck" by Eva Dobell

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World War I brought a new era of wars of attrition wounding and killing millions. These horrific battles were fought by mere teenagers, who had to grow up in a matter of months, and went from being children to desensitized men. This desensitization was necessary for the boys to stay sane through all the death and destruction around them. These men needed to seem tough, so they acted stronger then they were. The poem “Pluck” by Eva Dobell portrays the horrifying loss of innocence that many young soldiers endured during The Great War by her use of comparative stanzas, contrasting imagery, and alliteration. Eva Dobell uses the progression of stanzas to emphasize the boy’s loss of innocence through his childlike qualities and hardened adult qualities. The first stanza gives the context of the boy’s life by describing how the war made him “Crippled for life at seventeen” (1). The second stanza portrays the soldier as, “A child- so wasted and so white” (6). His life was wasted by this war because he could have had a productive life but instead he was just a crippled boy who would never be able to work. The third stanza portrays him with the fear and pain that are Child-like qualities. He “winds the clothes about his head” to hide from the inevitable pain that changing his bandages brings (13). The fourth stanza shows that he has to mask his feelings and act like a man, how “he’ll face us a soldier yet” because he is raised on the romanticism of tough, manly soldiers who do not even flinch through pain (17). One of the masks the soldier uses to prove his manliness is a cigarette, a clear symbol of adulthood. This progression of stanzas that emphasize both the boy’s childlike qualities and hardened adult qualities underscore the tragedy of his premature loss of innocence. The idea of boy like qualities being overcome by adult ones is also present in Dobell’s use of contrasting images. The soldier lies about his age to get drafted which is a symbol of being a man....
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