What are the morals in "War" by Jack London?

In "War," Jack London shows that war turns conventional morality upside down by rewarding immoral behavior and punishing humane behavior. The young man who behaves decently in sparing the life of an enemy soldier is later slaughtered by the same soldier.

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"War" is an anti-war story. London condemns war by showing that it rewards immoral behavior and punishes humane behavior. The story illustrates the inherent dehumanization in a kill-or-be-killed mentality.

The black-eyed young soldier demonstrates he has retained his moral center when he realizes he can shoot and kill a ginger-bearded enemy soldier at close range. When he sees the man, what registers is a fellow human being:

The eyes were blue and wide apart, with laughter-wrinkles in the corners that showed despite the tired and anxious expression of the whole face.

The young man shows his humanity in his decision not to kill this man. However, ironically, just as the young man himself is escaping an attack by the enemy, it is the ginger-bearded man who kills him. The young man is alone and outnumbered. There is no rational reason to kill him, but the people in pursuit of him have lost their moral compasses. They don't see him as a human being, but as an object that can enjoy destroying....

(The entire section contains 4 answers and 954 words.)

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