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Discovery Activity Nature of War

DiscoveryActivity: Nature of War

Waris an armed confrontation between various states or groups within aregion. War can also be described as a battle between nations. Beingat war means sacrificing one’s life for a course that individualsbelieve in. People have varied perspectives and interpretation aboutwar with the difference arising from the experience of conflict. Onewho has been in combat will have a different view about war comparedto a person who has not been on a battlefield. Some people willglorify the carnage and deaths caused as a result of war and even goon to romanticize it. An example of romanticized war can be seen inour news programs when they are broadcasting about the returningcombat troops. The difference in notions about war can also be seenin American literature, for example, the short story of Editha. Thisnarration takes readers through the romantic life of Editha and herfiancé George and their divergent views on war. Editha who ispro-war draws her perspectives from the newspapers she read while herfiancé, who was a preacher turned lawyer disagrees with much of whatshe believes in regarding warfare. Using her feminine qualities, shemanages to change her fiancée mind and have him register to fightthe Spanish where he meets his death. This essay elaborates thewriter’s opinion about war and shows the realistic and truthfulnature of the effects of combat as seen through the acts andreactions of Editha and the mother of her fiancé.

Editha’sPerspective about War

Inthe short story, Editha is portrayed as an impressionable young womanwho has based her idea about the war on the yellow journalism thatshe reads, regularly repeating phrases from the journal to herfiancé. Unlike her boyfriend’s mother, who believes that Georgeshould not enlist for the war for it serves no purpose, Editha is soecstatic about it and uses her charm to persuade her fiancé to goand recruit for the war (Howell, 4). Her ability to use her sexualallures to change her lover`s mind in enlisting for the war raisesthe question of moral complicity. In as much as Editha does not forceher fiancé into the war, her manipulative actions precipitate hisdeath (Howell 7). Her minor actions result in a catastrophic eventshowcasing the idea of the foolishness of romanticizing war wherehumans are ready to kill each other for a cause that has nodetermination. Editha comes out as a plotting underhanded woman whodrives her fiancé to war for what the battle could do for her, whichwas to have a perfect man, a soldier, who had to do something to haveher. Her claim for the war was for the glory which significantlycritiques the perception of war and the blind patriotism itpropagates. Also, George did not go to war for the sake of hiscountry, but rather to impress a woman whose only knowledge about warcame from the journals she read.

TheMother’s Perspective on the War

Followingthe death of George, Editha becomes sick as expected, but recoversshortly after that and continues with her life without care of theconsequences of her actions. The writer portrays Editha as a symbolof the warmongers, who will send troops to fight for their interestwithout actually caring about the lives of the soldiers. Thesebelligerents are seen to be delusional and deeply ingrained intotheir sense of personal power where they believe they have to getwhat they want no matter the consequence of their actions. Comparedto Editha, George’s mother is distraught and stressed about thedeath of her son (Howell 7). She is more angered by the letter Edithawrote to George warning him that if he did not participate in thewar, they would not be together. Her comments to Editha when she paidher visit as a promise to George denounces the sentimentalized viewof war. George`s mother was happy that her son died without killingsomeone for no valid reason and that he had no innocent blood on hishands, at the time of his death. This brings the contrast in beliefabout the war between the two. Editha’s letter shows how deeply herimmaturity was and her lack of love for anyone but herself ascompared to the mother who was happy the son had died without killinganyone.

Realismand Superficial People

Inas much as the writer sympathizes with George’s mom for the loss ofher son in a battle he had no business participating, he pitiesEditha more for not acknowledging the consequences of her actions.Editha viewed George mother to be an ungrateful old lady and neveractually saw any wrong doing in what she had done (Howell 8). She isdepicted to be continuing with her life as if she had done nothingwrong. To her, apart from the fact that her boyfriend was dead,everything remained the same. Not even grief and anger from George’smother would drive a sense of guilt into Editha. She stands as asuperficial person, who would go on to champion a new cause evenafter a devastating effect of her previous actions. Editha is shownas being out of touch with reality and as disillusioned regarding theartificiality of her asserted society`s gender roles. She is notaffected by her lone idealistic concept of the world of war, whichhas led to the death of her fiancé. According to Editha, a characterwas more important than the action. Therefore, she rated being a wifeto a soldier as an achievement compared to marrying an accomplishedlawyer who had done nothing for his country.

TheRole of Women in the Public Sphere

Thebook portrays women to be creatures that are capable but constrainedin doing certain actions. Therefore, Howell explains that suchfemales will use language aggressively to accomplish events theycannot do themselves. Editha was so excited about the war through thejournal she read and the periodical, but could not participate in thewar (Howell 3). Her only way to be involved in the warfare wastherefore through her fiancé, whom she managed to manipulate intoenlisting for the war. Women have been seen as outsiders in thepublic sphere with most critical decisions being left to their malecounterparts. The men in the patriarchal society would want tobelieve in something before they get involved in it. Thus, this wasthe aspect that Editha exploited by conniving to make George thinkthat he would lose her had he not gone to the war. The book furtherexhibits women as people who have accepted their marginalization andtherefore retaliate using whatever means in their possession inensuring that their male counterparts do as they wish. This is shownby the persuasive sexual nature of Editha in convincing her antiwarboyfriend to sign up for the battle he was against initially.


Warhas never been an answer to any grievances. Many wars fought havenever really had any reasonable ending apart from the loss of humanlives. Wars will remain important elements in our society andtherefore they should not be taken lightly. Editha was able to sendher partner to his death for a war that was highly questionable, andGeorge went to the combat just to prove a point to Editha and notshow his patriotism to his nation. The story of Editha and Georgedebunks all the myths about the reasons why people resolve to go tobattle showing that most wars are as a result of the self-inflictedego of the warmongers. Many wars are therefore only fought to servethe self-interests of the few elite.


Howells,D. William. Edithain Belasco, Susan, and Linck Johnson. The Bedford Anthology ofAmerican Literature, Volume Two: 1865 to the Present. New York:Bedford/St. Martins, 2008. Print.