For many, war was advertised through posters as being a once in a lifetime opportunity and adventure for men to fight for their country. In reality, the destruction and horror that consumed all enlisted men when out at battle was not known to many around the world. The title The Hero’ is ironically termed. Upon reading the first line of the poem it is assumed that Swanson would be writing about a war hero – someone who may have sacrificed his life for others or who may have simply served honorably and strong willingly fought for his country.
In the first Tanta the mother is introduced by saying ‘Jack fell as he’d have wished’. This creates the Impression that Jack died an honorable soldier’s death, falling In action. However, through further reading we see that there Is a harsh contrast between his death and the foreshadowed yet completely false hero he was depicted to be through the title. ‘He’d told the poor old dear some gallant lies’ – this affirms to us as readers that Jacks death was not as glorious and memorable as portrayed earlier on through the Colonel’s letter.Order now
Swanson then continues on to reveal to us that Jack was a cold-footed, useless swine’ and that he ‘had panicked down the trench that night the merely a boy, another useless soldier at war who never quite understood the concept of how to fight a proper battle. Swanson reveals to us the realities and illusions that were faced during the period of war. Whilst many lies were told to protect loved ones of discovering the harsh truth, the realities of the nightmarish war were soon portrayed through poems such as ‘The Hero’.
The poem ‘The Hero’ allows readers to be challenged on a commonly held view that all men at war act courageously and with velour as the poem begs to differ. We as readers are forced to reassess our view that all men at war act with honor and pride for their country. For many it is a misconception and once the truth is known about the cruelty of war people still lie to themselves in order to feel satisfied about ‘our men’ being at war living and fighting in horrific conditions.
Many other poems express the idea that going to war was a glorious service for your country. Swanson however enforces us to rethink our common view when it says ‘he’d tried to get sent home’ in reference to Jack the soldier. The writer displays to us that war was a time of readership and for many nightmarish, distressing and a longing for home was profound for the soldiers at war. Swanson conveys to readers the proud attitudes relatives would have held for loved ones enlisted in the War at the time.
When a soldier dies or more commonly known in war Jargon as ‘AKA – killed in action’ the family gets informed about his death and his glorious service and sacrifice for his homeland. In the poem Jacks mother receives a note containing similar information regarding his exemplary courage. These notes that would have been delivered to hundreds of thousands of relatives express how their son’s/brother’s/father’s laid down their lives for a noble cause.
Swanson is able to convey to his readers the attitudes loved ones would have held, emphasized through Jacks mother saying that ‘We mothers are so proud of our dead soldiers. ‘ This was an attitude endorsed by the war with continued distribution of notes and letters similar to this. The writer portrays how it was much more dignified telling ‘gallant lies’ to mother’s rather than them hearing the bitter truth and therefore relatives gained the attitude of feeling pride and honor for their beloved boy.