Do not weep, maiden, for war is kind

by Stephen Crane
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According to the speaker of "Do not weep, maiden, for war is kind," which of the following is not a reason people fight wars: for national pride, for religious reasons, for personal revenge, or for the enjoyment of fighting?

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Stephen Crane's "Do not weep, maiden, for war is kind " presents a harrowing view of war. The title serves as a refrain, which the narrator returns to again and again at the end of three of the five stanzas, after describing the fallout associated with war. Within...

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Stephen Crane's "Do not weep, maiden, for war is kind" presents a harrowing view of war. The title serves as a refrain, which the narrator returns to again and again at the end of three of the five stanzas, after describing the fallout associated with war. Within the various images that Crane presents are some reasons that people fight wars. However, Crane doesn't simply present the reasons; instead, they are subtly embedded within the stanzas themselves.

In stanza two, Crane writes:

Hoarse, booming drums of the regiment,
Little souls who thirst for fight,
These men were born to drill and die.
The unexplained glory flies above them,
Great is the battle-god, great, and his kingdom-
A field where a thousand corpses lie.

The "[l]ittle souls who thirst for fight" can be interpreted as people who enjoy fighting. However, Crane is careful to call the souls "little," as if suggesting that a bigger, more fully-formed soul would understand that war and violence is not an answer.

Further, stanza four suggests two more reasons for war:

Swift blazing flag of the regiment,
Eagle with crest of red and gold,
These men were born to drill and die.
Point for them the virtue of slaughter,
Make plain to them the excellence of killing
And a field where a thousand corpses lie.

The mention of the "swift, blazing flag of the regiment" and "[e]agle with crest of red and gold" evokes images of nationalistic pride. Both a flag and an eagle have been used to rally people together under one banner or icon throughout history and still are used today. This suggests that another reason people go to war is for national pride. Further, Crane's use of the phrases "virtue of slaughter" and "excellence of killing" equate the acts to deeds of a biblical level. According to some, to slaughter is a virtue and to kill is excellent, thus presenting the idea that killing is often done, not only for national pride, but also for religious reasons.

The one reason that Crane does not present as a reason people go to war is revenge. In fact, he leaves the concept out of the poem completely. While stanzas two and four focus on the reasons some go to war, stanzas one, three, and five focus on some of those left behind when a solider is killed. Crane presents the image of a maiden who has lost her lover, a child who has lost a father, and a mother who has lost a son; however, none of these come with any mention of revenge. The maiden does not seek to kill the person who killed her lover, the child does not live to make another fatherless, the mother does not hire an assassin to ease her sadness. Despite the fact that all three of these characters suffer greatly, the thought of killing the person who killed their lover, father, or son never crosses the mind of any of them. This helps to contribute to the overall mood and message of the poem: that war is not glorious. It is not perpetuated by those who may have justification but, instead, by those who wish to justify their own ignorance.

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