Synthesis of Guernica

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During the Spanish Civil War, a small Basque village was bombed by German troops. In April of 1937, Pablo Picasso paid tribute to the bombing by creating the painting, Guernica, which showed a horrible scene of corpses and disaster stricken community. In 1985, a replication of Guernica was donated to the United Nations headquarters in New York and was “hung outside in the Security Council chamber.” In February of 2003, councilmen gathered at the UN in order to hear US Secretary of State Colin Powell build the American case for war against Iraq. Before the procedure could begin, however, the replication was covered with “a blue curtain and flags of the council’s member countries,” under the notion that it “was simply a matter of creating a more effective backdrop for the television cameras.” Off the record, some UN officials believe that “the United States leaned on UN officials to cover the tapestry, rather than have it in the background while Powell or other US diplomats argued for war on Iraq.” This situation relates directly to George Orwell’s 1984. The covering of Guernica is similar to the censorship Orwell condemns in 1984. (Source 4:Walsh)

In 1984, everything was censored and citizens were not allowed to think for themselves. Their government, the Party, regulated every aspect of life, from working to sleeping. Everyone was under their control. Even children were taught to censor the things their parents did or said. The government also dictated what was seen in the media, which is how Guernica connects to 1984.

The theme of the painting, Guernica, is war. To have this graphic tribute to the loss of innocent lives as the background for one’s speech justifying war is questionable. Just as the Party censored the media in 1984, UN officials were censoring what the public was seeing here. Why would they allow a painting that shows death, heartache, and loss to be the first thing the public saw? This would make the public question the motives of those...
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