Miranda’s Reading Questions for March 24th

  • “Break of Day in the Trenches” is essentially about a soldier in the trenches that comes across a rat. The soldier seems to resent the rat as the poem continues. In Rosenberg’s, “Break of Day in the Trenches”, what does the rat represent? Why does the narrator seem jealous of it? 
  • “Louse Hunting” is a poem that describes a battle fought on the soldier’s bodies rather than the battlefield. In this poem how are lice significant? How do they represent the war’s effect on the soldier’s psyches?  
  •  Blunden’s, “1916 Seen from 1921” is about the effects war has on soldiers’ lives. What are the narrator’s views on life after the war for soldiers? Are they accurate to this day? 

17 thoughts on “Miranda’s Reading Questions for March 24th

  1. 1-The rat is “a queer sardonic rat” and it represents how ridiculous the notion of war really is. This thing, a rat, cannot understand such higher notions as “the whims of murder” and the horrors of living in trenches for weeks at a time. I think the narrator is jealous of the rat because it has the freedom to live a simple existence and the soldier is trapped in a hell that requires killing his fellow man.
    2-I have read lots of books on the Great War and lice are almost always mentioned. Lots of audio recordings of WWI combat survivors exist and I was struck that the men referred to “being lousy” as normal. This poem is so interesting because it is about lack of control. A common infantryman lived in filth and had vermin crawling all over his body. I can’t even image seeing the creepy crawlers all over you and itching like crazy while just trying to keep warm and dry. The effects of being physically and mentally uncomfortable twenty fours a day must have been maddening! It is understandable why these poor men had mental breakdowns. The lack of control over the lice also represents the soldier’s lack of control over what was happening on the battlefield.
    3-This poem is especially impactful because the message is: You can never go home. What I mean is that the poet seems to be trying to put it all behind him and return to a quiet life but he cannot forget the dead men he loved and life “drags” because the pain of the war will always be with him. Most soldiers that return from combat feel this way. Killing one’s fellow man is not something that comes naturally. I am thinking of the Ukrainian people and how many of them will fell exactly like Blunden did when all of this terrible fighting is over.

  2. 1) In class yesterday we talked a lot about this poem and we found the rat very fascinating. I think the narrator is jealous of the rat because of the simple freedom this rat has to be able to go from trench to trench (for example). Not only does the rat have physical freedom compared to the soldier but the rat is so naive to what is going on around it. Obviously, the rat is an animal so it doesn’t understand naturally the same as humans but the rat also represents an escape for the soldier as well. This moment of a break for the soldier is an important part of how the soldier’s mental state is being represented too.

  3. 2. The lice represents how the war slowly drives the soldiers insane. There are also different levels of tolerance for physical and mental struggle. Just as some men can handle lice for some time, some men can stick it out in the war for a significant amount of time. However, it always catches up to them eventually, and when it does catch up to them, it is very obvious. I also found the physical struggles to represent the constancy of the war. Something like lice is unrelenting, just as the war never allows for a break. Even when the bullets are not actively flying, they cannot rest from the dangers of the war. It is important to remember how intense the other aspects of the war were besides the actual fighting because it all plays a role in the soldiers’ experiences

  4. 1. The fact that the rat can freely move between the different lines in “Break of Day in the Trenches” is what garners jealousy. It symbolizes the resented interconnectivity of humans, divided by governments and made up loyalties. I think the rat also doubles as the greed that propels wars forward. The fact it is getting fatter on the corpses of the soldiers is similar to war mongers who line their pockets with the promise of conflict. The rat represents all the good and bad of humans simultaneously. That is what leads to the complicated relationship between the narrator and the rat.

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