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SFSU War Experience Dulce et Decorum Est and The Things They Carried Essay

In his philosophical essay, “A Little of That Human Touch: Knowledge and Empathy in the Music of Bruce Springsteen,” Scott Calef argues that there is a special kind of knowledge “which Springsteen imparts abundantly” in his songs. Calef adds that this knowledge is a “knowledge of what something is like” and that it is not limited “to things we have experienced ourselves.” Indeed, “A gifted artist” like Springsteen “can really expand our horizons.”

Springsteen’s songs do not do this by accident or luck. He expands “painstaking efforts . . . to get nuances and descriptions exactly right,” to make sure “details and moods are captured perfectly.” Calef quotes Springsteen as adding that beyond the telling details he has to pull out of himself “an emotional center.” These things together “shed light on” the lives and experiences of those he sings about.

I want you to write a essay that examines how a poet and short story writer use nuances, descriptions, telling details, and an emotional center to give us the same kind of knowledge of what war is like.  

The poet is Wilfred Owen and his poem, “Dulce et Decorum Est” (913) attempts to capture the experience of trench warfare in World War I. The story writer Tim O’Brien, in his story, “The Things They Carried” (609-622), attempts to capture the experience of a platoon of American soldiers in the Vietnam War. 

How do these two writers, poet and story writer, provide us—each in his own unique way—the experience of what war is like? How do they expand our horizon about soldiers at war?  

Please make sure that your essay has a thesis—a main point about these two work of literature you will be analyzing.  After you write a draft, thoroughly revise and edit your essay to make sure that your final version is complete, coherent, and thorough, that it has good organization and support for its clear, compelling thesis, and that it uses relevant supporting examples and details from both the poem and the story.  Be sure to proofread and edit your essay so that it has absolutely minimal errors in grammar, sentence structure, and usage.


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