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Private Peaceful Essay

‘Private Peaceful’ by Michael Morpurgo explores the brutality of war and the devastation brought about by those who wage it. Essentially, it is a novel that condemns war. Morpurgo uses Charlie’s court martial and the actions of his superiors and authority figures to emphasise the unjust and pointless nature of war, along with Tommo’s experiences as a soldier in battle to illustrate the destructiveness of conflict. Overall, Morpurgo highlights the outcome of the war to demonstrate its general ineffectiveness and wastefulness. Ultimately, it is through this awareness that Morpurgo condemns war.

A key thematic element throughout ‘Private Peaceful’ is injustice. Morpurgo uses Charlie’s court martial and the actions of the authority figures in charge of it to depict the unjust and pointless nature of war. Although Charlie was trying to protect his brother when he was court martialled, the judges made their decision in less than an hour, the extenuating circumstances were not taken into account and Charlie was still found guilty. As a result, there is a sense in the text that the reasons for Charlie’s actions – and indeed Charlie himself – are of no real concern to the authority figures who carry his fate in their hands.

Sergeant Hanley, a brigadier, and the two captains think Charlie is a “mutinous trouble maker” and so have prejudged him beforehand. Charlie is aware of this bias. He believes the judges thought he “…was guilty before [he] even sat down…they knew [he] was right but it made no difference…they believed what they wanted to believe. ” This treatment of Charlie, who signed up to fight for his country with no thought for his own wellbeing, shows just how one-sided and unfair war was. It was the soldiers who suffered, not the people who made the decisions.

Another way Morpurgo signifies the pointlessness of war is by depicting the abusive use of power by authoritative figures. In the novel Sergeant Hanley abuses his power, degrades people and treats them like “vermin”. According to Tommo, the sergeant uses his power to “[take] away [your] spirit, drain [your] strength, destroy [your] hope. ” This is evident when Sergeant Hanley yells at the soldiers, inspects, trains, drills, exercises repeatedly and making them depressed and tired. Thus, all Hanley really cares about is his own survival.

Ultimately, his cruel behaviour is used by Morpurgo to emphasise the traumatic and unjust nature of war and thus, he condemns it. Morpurgo also draws on vivid and detailed descriptions of Tommo’s experiences of battle to show just how brutal and traumatic war was and by doing so condemn it. Morpurgo uses Tommo’s experience within war to portray the darkness and pain a soldier goes through during war. The soldiers experience many obstacles through the war and Morpurgo implies this by “[their] haunted, hunted look in their eyes.

The soldiers go through a lot in war, they see many things that can’t be unseen. The soldiers experience things that can’t be experienced for the reader. Morpurgo creates a sense that the soldiers are in vain and all they hear from this experience of war are “…screams [that are] cut short, the death rattle of machine guns, the staccato of rifle fire picking [soldiers] off, one by one. ” Morpurgo’s allusions give the reader an understanding of the darkness and shocking events that happen during the war and how he condemns it.

Additionally, Morpurgo gives an understanding of what the soldiers go through during war. Whilst Tommo is in battle his ‘”yes are stinging, [he] is coughing, retching, choking… blood pouring down [his] face, [his] head is wracked with a sudden burning pain…falling into a world of darkness. ” Morpurgo’s use of language establishes how much pain a soldier like Tommo goes through during war. His use of words shows the emptiness and tragedy of war and how once a person goes to war, they don’t come back the same.

Thus, through the way Morpurgo describes how a soldier feels and the distressing events the soldier experiences highly justifies his attitude on the purposelessness of war. Lastly, Morpurgo also condemns war by emphasising the outcome of the fighting and by repeatedly using the symbolism of the dead crow to demonstrate that war does not actually solve anything. War doesn’t solve anything, murdering individuals’ rips families and friends apart, destroys bonds, terminates love and eliminates the very inception of happiness.

In the novel, Morpurgo clearly states that war doesn’t solve anything and that war should “go to hell, all of [them]. British, German, French, all of [them]. ” In the war, many countries are fighting and all this was because “some archduke had been shot… and Germany and France were angry with each other about it. ” Morpurgo suggests that this is not the way people should resolve problems and condemns war. Through this, it is evident that Morpurgo clearly disgusts war and that there is no need for it if it is killing innocent people.

Furthermore, throughout the text, Morpurgo symbolises war to a “dead crow hanging from the fence [with] his beak open…[with] his feathers still catching the wind even in death. ” Morpurgo symbolism of war to a dead crow implies that the war is nothing, there is no need for it as it is dead and that there is no need to bring it back. The feathers may be still there but there is no need for it. Morpurgo deeply describes war as a horrible idea and the text supports him in condemning war. Hence, through ‘Private Peaceful’ Morpurgo evokes his support to condemning war through the explanation of how war solves nothing.

Morpurgo’s text explores the destructive nature of war. He condemns war and wants it to stop. Morpurgo demonstrates this through his text, ‘Private Peaceful’ through the key theme of injustice in war, the darkness and brutality of harrowing events and the reasoning that war doesn’t solve anything. Therefore, it is through this perception that Morpurgo condemns war. As the famous American politician, Jimmy Carter says “War may sometimes be a necessary evil. But no matter how necessary it is always an evil, never a good. ”

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