War Is Kind Themes

Themes

Natural Law
In “War is Kind” Crane emphasizes the psychological torment that dying soldiers and their loved ones endure instead of focusing on their heroic or patriotic behavior. He desires to present the world as he sees it rather than the way he wants it to be. Much of Crane’s poetry and fiction depict how human beings behave in extreme circumstances, whether that be how the impoverished survive on the streets of New York City, how men in a lifeboat interact when faced with the prospect of drowning, or how soldiers behave while bullets and shrapnel flies around them. His deterministic philosophy, a feature of naturalism, is evident in the graphic ways he represents the soldiers’ deaths. They die alone, fearful and full of rage, in a field “where a thousand corpses lie.” Unlike some of his prose work which attempts to render humanity with a more detached, scientific eye, “War is Kind” also makes a moral judgement about the seeming “naturalness” of war, the speaker implicitly ridiculing the regiment which teaches the soldiers “to drill and die” and “Point[s] for them the virtue of slaughter.” This judgement suggests that in this work, at least, Crane sees the possibility that things could be different. Although sympathetic with the suffering of the dying, he is outraged at the institutions which sanction war, in this case the military itself, represented by the regiment, which “make[s] plain … [to the soldiers] the...

(The entire section is 552 words.)