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What were they like? and vultures both deal with the idea of cruelty in war. Compare the ways they do this.

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Q) 'What were they like?' and 'vultures' both deal with the idea of cruelty in war. Compare the ways they do this. To begin with, in 'What were they like?' it links to cruelty and war by talking about the Vietnam War, "when bombs smashed those mirrors, there was only time to scream..." It's talking about when the bombs destroyed the fields, homes, and wildlife. It's showing us how one minute life is flourishing and everything is living in peace and harmony and one minute war comes and destroys life. (Denise Levertov points out the horrible, destructive effects of the Vietnam War. American weapons burned human bones and killed the children. War produced screams, not art.) In contrast, 'Vultures' uses WW2 to highlight the cruelty of war; "thus the commandment at Belsen camp". The poem uses a famous camp as evidence of the cruelty as we know that at these concentration camps the people were worked to death on grossly inadequate food, used for medical experiments which were often fatal and hanged for minor breaches of camp rules. ...read more.


to a vulture who "picked the eyes of a swollen corpse... ...and ate the things in its bowel". Both of the quotes written here give the audience a disgusting mental image. This revolting image highlights to us the cruelty and ghastly torture of war. It makes the audience think that if the commander at the camp acted like an animal that eats humans ('human roast'), then he must have treated the inmates appallingly; more inferiorly than animals. The structure of 'What were they like?' is in a question and answer form; "1) Did the people of Vietnam use lanterns of stone? 1) Sir, their light hearts turned to stone. It is not remembered whether in gardens stone lanterns illumined pleasant ways." Clearly it's obvious that the top part is by a reporter, or by somebody who doesn't know about Vietnam and the bottom part is by somebody who has lived the life of someone in Vietnam. ...read more.


Similarly, personification is a great technique which Achebe uses to create a personified effect to things which we wouldn't think of as human, "strange indeed how love so particular will pick a corner in that charnel-house and tidy it and coil up there and perhaps even fall asleep, her faced turned to the wall!". This quote is personifying how love is a "she" and how "she will pick a corner" and "tidy it up", "fall asleep with her face turned to the wall". This quote illustrates how even though there is cruelty in war there is still a tiny bit of love there. In 'What were they like?', Levertov's feelings do come across the poem as we can tell that from the war in Vietnam she feels like war can destroy a whole culture. On the contrary, Achebe shows an indication of the fact that even though war is a disastrous thing, some people can still have love, friendship and affection. ...read more.

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