Historical Context

Although Crane never served in the United States military, as a journalist he covered a number of conflicts for various newspapers and news services during the mid-to-late 1890s, including the Greco- Turkish War and the Spanish-American War. On page 91 of his study of Crane’s life and work, Stephen Cady discusses Crane’s compassion and empathy for the everyday suffering of war victims and quotes from an article Crane wrote about refugees: “There is more of this sort of thing in war than glory and heroic death, flags, banners, shouting, and victory.” Crane’s compassion transcended national identity, as he saw suffering resulting from war as a universal human problem rather than a primarily political one. Thus the flag in “War is Kind,” though associated with a particular country, actually stands for all countries.

The Spanish-American War, which Crane covered for the New York World, lasted less than a year from declaration to treaty. However, the conflict between Cuba and Spain, which precipitated the war, was simmering when Crane was sent as a reporter to Cuba in 1896. In 1898 President McKinley ordered the battleship Maine to Havana harbor in Cuba as a show of American might and as tacit support of the insurgents’ position. Shortly after its arrival the ship was destroyed by a mysterious bomb blast and 250 men were lost. Although questions remain as to the source of the blast, it was enough of a reason for the United States to declare war on Spain, which the American public supported wholeheartedly. Spain capitulated within three months, and as a condition of the Paris Peace Treaty of 1898 gave up control of Cuba and ceded the...

(The entire section is 686 words.)