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American Society Essay

1516 words - 7 pages

American Society and World War I
Wilfred Owen was an English poet known for his anger at the cruel way war was unforgiving towards its victims. Owen served in World War I, and revealed a major contrast in what the public perceived of the war at the time. Owen wrote the poem “Dulce et Decorum Est” in 1917, and it painted graphic and eye opening images for Europeans and Americans, which allowed the public to realize how much damage the war was causing towards society. The European countries suffered many more casualties and damage towards their people and homes that the Americans did, but the society changed in America changed after WWI. In the paper, I will argue that while by sheer numbers ...view middle of the document...

” By what was seen, and heard by Europeans during the war, they too, probably had similar ideas to Owen. Owen’s poem is also representative because of how American society changed in a way that could not be undone at the end of the war, even though the war did not take place on American soil.
Americans did not engage in the war efforts through combat until 1917, and only fought for two years until the war ended. The losses America suffered compared to the European countries were minor, but many men still died. This had many affects on American society. In Owen’s “Dulce et Decorum Est”, the experiences of the soldiers outlined through images and words are the same experiences the American troops faced. Troops came home with symptoms of “shell shock”, and feelings of an undignified war. This rubbed off on the American society. People began to understand the economic consequences of war, the grimness associated with war, and began to create anti-war groups. This war served as a catalyst for change towards ideas that war is not always the best solution. This relate to Owen’s view of war, because it holds un-honorable values.
While England had practically one million combat related deaths, and Americans only had one hundred thousand , the way society was affected in both countries was similar. British society was broken because of the massive amounts of casualties, and that the war had taken place so close to home. Soldiers returning home faced various emotions because of “shell shock”, which disconnected them from society. The demographic consequences of the war took a toll on British society. Social class numbers greatly dropped due to the extreme amount of casualties in WWI, which resulted in low marriage numbers. This affected both the social elites and the working class members. Even though American losses were not a great as England, they still suffered the same societal affects.
Physically, America was not greatly damaged by the war. Mentally, they were. Soldiers came home after the war with “shell Shock”, and feeling lost. At home, the soldiers were being cheered on by Americans who only knew what the war looked like through pictures. There was no understanding of the true reality of WWI, so American’s didn’t know the toll it would take on the soldiers, and ultimately society. The soldiers who fought in the war witnessed men dying, and these deaths were illustrated in poems, such as Owen’s “Dulce et Decorum Est.” “He plunges at me, guttering, choking, drowning.” Men came back to America with these images still fresh in their minds. This helped shift America into an isolationist attitude. Americans no longer wanted to become involved in foreign matters, but keep to themselves. American’s desired to live better than they had. They wanted to spend their money on new technologies, such as vacuum cleaners, cars, and radios. Ultimately, this isolationist attitude caused the economy to suffer because there weren’t enough people to sell their...

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