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Poor Man's Fight Essay

1219 words - 5 pages

On September 11, 2001, the world was shaken as the greatest superpower in the world was attacked on her home soil. The last time the United States of America was attacked at home was 6 decades prior in the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor, which resulted in America officially declaring war on Japan. The 9/11 attack was no different. 9 days after the attack, then President George W. Bush declared “war on terrorism” (citation). This war was very controversial because many people believed that without any discernable enemy, it was a front for control of the oil in the Middle East. Many also felt that it was an unjustified reason for American soldiers to be deployed and risk their lives. One of these opposing individuals was singer/songwriter Steve Earle. Earle’s poem “Rich Man’s War” is a complex and unique poem that demonstrates a strong anti-war theme, uses style and techniques to further compliment the message of the poem; it leaves readers with a strong conviction that government needs to deregulate business, America needs to learn from our past, and war is a front that the wealthy abuse for their own good. Earle was very outspoken with his criticism of the Bush Administration and the war.
Earle used his musical artist platform to voice his disapproval of war. “Rich Man’s World” has a very strong anti-war themes that is apparent throughout the poem. The poem describes the lives of three soldiers that are part of the war: Jimmy, Bobby, and Ali. Jimmy represents middle-class Americans with dreams to get a job, see the world, then settle down and start a family. But life did not go Jimmy’s way, “[he] joined the army ‘cause he had no place to go” and could not get a job (Earle 465). War is often not looked at as the horrible evil that it is, but rather a source of income and a steadily hiring industry. This view is often expressed across literature, such as in Thomas Hardy’s “The Man He Killed” where the man enlisted for the same reason as Jimmy. Similarly, Bobby represents the lower-class Americans that are patriotic and bred for war. Earle portrays not only as malicious, but also as an enabler. In Bobby’s case, he is using the military as a way to run from his life and the war is enabling him to do so as evidenced in the poem, ‘[Bobby] Left behind a pretty young wife and a baby girl a stack of overdue bills and went off to save the world” (Earle 465). Finally, war is wrong because it disrupts the lives of people where the war is fought. Ali grew up in fear and was hardened by the war. As a child he and the other children would play games that involved throwing things at tanks as they rolled down the streets (Earle 465). Not only was a normal childhood out of the question, but he was expected to pay the ultimate sacrifice: his life. The one thing that all of these men have in common is that all of them went off to war and none had a stake or reason to fight and it was their only option. Earle’s point is that war is evil, it is an enabler for the...

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