Comparison between war photographer and kamikaze, got 23 how do I improve?Watch
Compare how poets present conflict in “Kamikaze” and “War Photographer”?
“Kamikaze” and “War photographer” are poems that are set against the backdrop of war and this backdrop is used by both poets to examine variation in the human response to conflict, focusing on different individuals within society and their experiences of conflict.
Both poets describe individuals who have a role and purpose within society which requires them to be both clinical and methodical in the approach to their work and experiences with conflict. In “Kamikaze”, this is illustrated through a daughter narrating the story and life of her father, a Kamikaze pilot. Kamikaze pilots were essentially fighter pilots in a Japanese suicidal regime that required them to crash their planes onto enemy ships in an effort to kill those on board and sink the ships, in which process, they would also be killing themselves too. Through the eyes of the daughter, we are presented with cultural practices that the father engaged in, as he prepared for his suicidal mission. Her father is described to have a “samurai sword/ in the cockpit, a shaven head/ full of powerful incantations”. The use of the words, “powerful incantations” could perhaps be a reference to the intensive amount of religious and social pressures that were present in order to coerce young men into a regime that promised them an honorable, respectable, and unforgettable death and remembrance within their society. Alternatively, due to the nature of the word, “incantation”, this could also be a reference to prayers that might have taken place to ensure a peaceful death, afterlife or hope for survival. In addition to this, Garland uses enjambed lines to prompt the reader with images of the father’s actions and his clinical approach towards conflict and his approaching death. The accompanying sword is a symbol of the father’s masculinity that is seeped in the culture of Japan and he uses the samurai sword alongside him as he prepares and continues with his mission which conveys his reverence for an age-long cultural practice. This emphasises the need for the pilot to appear emotionless and his inability to express his own opinion on what ultimately is the fate of his own life due to the nature of his orders.
Similarly, in “War Photographer”, the photographer engages in an age long practice where he has to develop rolls of film in order to transform them into photographs of conflict occurring all across the world and the same nonchalance required of Kamikaze pilot to commit his mission and essentially his suicide, is needed by the photographer as his role is one that involves him having to witness the horrors of war and individuals in extremely vulnerable positions, ignoring any possible urges to help or listen to their pleas of despair and desperation. This is illustrated by Duffy as she writes, “spools of suffering set out in ordered rows.” The spool serves as a metaphor for the grief and agony the photographer captures and emphasises that while those are spools of pictures, each one of those is a true image of ultimate pain and this creates a tone of verisimilitude and evokes readers to think of endless, eternal suffering. In addition, the sibilance “s” sounds within “spools” and “suffering” are quiet and could reflect how the suffering of soldiers on the battlefield is silent as they are not in the position to voice their pain and the real aspects of war that those at home simply are not able to understand.
Therefore, both poets suggest that conflict has ramifications that effect those involved but it is clear that that the most deeply affected are not those in the civilian population, but those on the front lines. In “Kamikaze”, this is evident through the juxtaposition between the pilot and his family, particularly his wife as the daughter reveals that her “mother never spoke again/ in his presence,”. Garland uses internal rhyme to link together the words “mother” and “never” and this gives them dramatic emphasis and causes the reader to focus and possibly question the motive behind the actions of the wife. Garland implies that the wife is utterly ashamed of her husband’s actions and this suggests that has been so indoctrinated with the belief that sacrifice is an honorable act, that it is almost unimaginable that her husband would act against a cultural expectation. Through her actions, we gain the impression that she fails to comprehend the gravity of her husband taking his own life, the sacrifice they expect him to make to meet her standards and the society’s standards of masculinity and the effect that conflict has on him as a human being. Therefore, the wife’s inability to experience first-hand and relate to her husband situation and the consequences conflict has upon him is the fundamental reason for the juxtaposition and conflict between her husband and her. This juxtaposition is evident in “War Photographer” but between those in the civilian population and those on the front lines and Garland highlights this as we are told the photographer was, “Home again to ordinary pain…to fields which don’t explode beneath the feet of running children in a nightmare heat”. Here, ordinary daily life does not co-exist with the experience of war and therefore Duffy likens it to a “nightmare”, which is the closest experience an ordinary citizen can obtain of one of conflict and this highlights the drastic difference in the ramifications of conflict on individuals at home, compared to those on the battlefield. Therefore, both poems connect ordinary life to life within the context of conflict to emphasis the poets’ didactic purpose.
This didactic purpose is one that appears to rely on the hope that conflict can be resolved by the power of memory as this concept is present within both poems. In “Kamikaze”, it is arguably the memory of the pilot’s childhood and the beauty of life and nature that makes the pilot value his life and turn around. This can be interpreted from the words, “green-blue translucent sea” as the word “green-blue” suggests that the pilot was weighing the pros and cons of each decision and the adjective “blue” ,having connotations of serenity, implies that the pilot had subconsciously decided to turn and the adjective “translucent” suggests that he begun to see through the “powerful incantations” , that were previously present, debatably due to his memory of how beautiful the world is and his experiences. Similarly, the photographer in “War photographer”, wants individuals to have a more powerful memory and one that would not allow them to just forget, move on and normalise conflict and suffering, particularly when it is happening everywhere. This concept is presented when Garland writes, “the readers eyeballs prick/ with tears between the bath and pre-lunch beers”. Here, Duffy uses plosive sounds in the words “prick” and “between” to express her condemnation of the passivity of the newspaper readers and the harsh, satirical tone expresses her desire for people to remember the pain and conflict of others for more than just a few seconds. However, even this hope appears to diminish as she ends the poem with the declarative statement that “they do not care”.
The poems work to provide an objective view of conflict, yet the defining and final message and tone of both poems is one of hopelessness. Therefore, we receive the impression that both Garland and Duffy write about conflict in an effort to raise awareness about it and the effect it has, to change the laisssez -faire attitude of those not involved. It is also perhaps their own desperate effort to make a difference and educate readers to prevent and lessen the likelihood of conflict in the future, given the events of the past.