What does the red-faced passenger share about his personal experience in "War"?

In the short story "War" by Luigi Pirandello, the red-faced man in the train compartment first shares the opinion that parents should not sorrow for their sons who have gone off to war, because they go away happy to serve their country. However, he then shares the personal experience of having lost his son in the war, and he breaks down and weeps in grief.

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It is important to understand what the red-faced passenger shares in "War" by Luigi Pirandello in the context of the short story's situation. A couple boards a train in Italy. They are deeply saddened that their only son has gone off to the war. The husband relays this information to the other passengers, whereupon they all tell their own stories of sons and other relatives who have gone off to the fighting. One woman's son went off at the beginning of the war, was wounded twice, and each time left for the war again. Another passenger has two sons and three nephews fighting at the front. They argue over whose sorrow would be greater: parents who send off only one child or parents who send off more.

At this point, the fat, red-faced man intervenes to give his own personal opinion and experience. One passenger says that their children belong to their country, but the red-faced man retorts that parents don't have children for the country, they just have them. "We belong to them but they never belong to us." In other words, parents are devoted to their children's lives and happiness, but the children in turn give their attention to living their lives with

girls, cigarettes, illusions, new ties ... and the country, of course, whose call we would have answered—when we were twenty.

The red-faced man continues by saying that their young men are happy to go off and defend the country, and if they die, they don't want tears and sorrow. He insists that people should stop crying. He relates that as his son was dying he confessed satisfaction at "having ended his life in the best way he could have wished." As a result, the man does not even wear mourning clothes.

The sorrowing woman who had gotten on the train at the beginning of the story finds some consolation in the red-faced man's words, and she asks if his son is really dead. At this question, the man loses his composure and breaks down in tears of inconsolable grief. We understand that the pronouncements he made previously were only to cover up the terrible pain he feels at the loss of his son.

Last Updated by eNotes Editorial on

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