How To Survive Second World War With A Comic Perspective? (John Ciardi's War Diary And War Poetry)

3330 words - 13 pages

John Ciardi was trying to come to terms with survival, mortality, death and killing through his literary endeavors - his diary and poems - which give an insight into his inner thoughts and fears. "Saipan," Ciardi's war diary was written in 1944-45. His war poetry collection named Other Skies was published in 1947. He spent three years as an aerial gunner on a B-29. The diary depicts the soldiers, their every day life in the army, the battles, their crew equipment and reveals the poet's feelings of dread and trauma. The journal casts light upon his transformation, as the diary begins, the poet is ignorant, meaningless - a person who actually does not really care what is happening. "I must have slept through the big scare. Either that, or I was too sleepy, or just too ignorant to get decently moved towards survival. Mostly ignorance I guess." He uses comic tone: "No one had ever shot at me before, and I couldn't quite understand anyone beginning to."(pg. 24) This tone of senselessness changes into a vulnerable and terrified human being's memoir and the diary suddenly stops, perhaps he was unable to repress his feelings any longer it must have been too much to bear. The fact that he was a aerial gunner could serve as one of the explanations for his insensitivity that was represented in "Saipan." It seems that distance makes it easier to murder, as they do not have to face the actual death, blood, suffering and the fear in the eyes of the enemy - all they need to do is release bombs from the sky. Ciardi's themes in both his diary and his war poetry reflects this assumption; he does not deal with topics as depiction of the enemy and their agony, but describes in details the planes, the sky, the mechanics and his fellow crew soldiers.It is no doubt that Ciardi suffered from trauma caused by the war experiences, despite the fact that his diary reflects a mocking, humorous tone. What are the reasons for his unusual perspective in describing war experiences? Freud's theory, Beyond the Pleasure Principle, provides answers and explanations for a psychological analysis of Ciardi's works. The theory describes the different instincts that affect individuals such as personal confrontations of loss of life or trauma and the impact they have on human behavior. Generally, the pleasure principle is a force that drives a person to avoid pain and search for pleasure. An individual struggles between these two fundamental instincts: Eros or the "life-instinct" is responsible for self-preservation, harmony and creativity, as opposed to Thanatos, or the "death-instinct" of self-destruction, aggression and cruelty. Ciardi's confrontation of pain, repression and the horrors of war is projected into his diary and his poetry. How is the poet's internal struggle of the basic instincts defined by Freud mirrored in the themes and tones of his poems and his diary? What are the differences and similarities? How is he dealing with trauma in his literary works?Going through such...

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