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Tom Brokaw’s The Greatest Generation Essay

1408 words - 6 pages

Tom Brokaw’s The Greatest Generation

In Tom Brokaw’s book, The Greatest Generation, the author portrays ordinary people of a certain generation as having qualities of greatness and heroism. He tells stories of average people that lived inspiring lives through many hardships, and declares today’s society as the beneficiary of their challenging work and commitment. Brokaw’s generous and proficient use of imagery helps to persuade the reader to believe that the people of “the greatest generation” are, indeed, heroic. He defines the strength and resilience of “the greatest generation” by what they were able to confront and overcome.

“…when the nation was balanced precariously between the darkness of the Great Depression on one side and the storms of war in Europe and the Pacific on the other…..Once again the American people understood the magnitude of the challenge, the importance of an unparallel national commitment, and, most of all, the certainty that only one resolution was acceptable.”(p3) This quote is from the opening paragraph of the chapter in Brokaw’s book, “The Time of their Lives.” These ordinary people surmounted times of great destitution while courageously facing the epoch of the Great depression. They comprehended the necessity for commitment in order to preserve their independence. Brokaw uses imagery including “the Darkness of the Great depression” to reveal to the reader the severity of their situation. He depicts the Great Depression not just as a time of hardships, but as an era when thousands of men and women starved to death, parents could not provide for themselves or their families and unemployment was so high that a days work would yield, at most, a loaf of stale bread to feed an entire family. Although he does not say these things directly, his use of imagery causes the reader to have these thoughts and to see these images.

“…they were fighting, often hand to hand, in the most primitive conditions possible, across the bloodied landscape of France, Belgium, Italy, Austria. They fought their way up a necklace of South Pacific islands few had ever heard of before and made them a fixed part of American history...and they went to sea on hostile waters far removed from the shores of their homeland.”(pXIX) This quote from the introductory chapter of Brokaw’s book, “Generations,” describes what the heroes of “the greatest generation” had to face. Brokaw’s use of imagery here provides, in words, a vivid portrait of the violent ocean that the American soldiers had to cross in order to enter this remote land already bloodied by their neighbors and foes, to fight for their very way of life. They traveled thousands of miles over the harsh seas to enter what was, to them, the unknown.

“What those unsuspecting infants could not have realized, of course, was that these were temporary conditions, a false spring to life that would be buffeted by winds of change dangerous and unpredictable, so fierce that they threatened not...

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