Ever wondered what it’s really like to be in war? Welcome to reality and welcome to Joe’s reality. Joe is a living, breathing, and perfect example of what war is and the effects of it. Some say Joe might as well not even be living. In Johnny Got His Gun, Trumbo uses three rhetorical strategies; imagery, rhetorical questions, and mood and tone. Through imagery, we envision the reality of war. Through mood and tone, the author writes in such a way that creates a certain feeling towards war as well as towards Joe.
Through rhetorical questions, the author leaves us thoughts to ponder on. Imagery is one of the strategies that appeal to all of our senses. Trumbo does a great job in portraying the realities and encounters of the war. Trumbo carefully describes war by using spine-tingling examples. For example, in chapter XII, Joe mentions a young Englishman walking through a field and falling into a decomposing man. The young man couldn’t get out, and he threw up, still with his arm completely lodged in the rotting flesh of what used to be a living, breathing human being.
Just the way that Joe describes the situation, sends chills running down your spine! I suddenly felt as if I was the one who had fallen through the dead man. This is just one of the many traumatizing encounters of the war. Also, in chapter XII, a man with an open-view stomach was brought to be treated. Just imagine that? I don’t think I would’ve been able to bear the sight of a person’s organs out in the open. Imagery allows us to visualize the painful, physical horrors of war.
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Trumbo appeals to our emotions in a way that makes us feel like we are physically in the war and what Joe must be feeling. Mood and tone is the key to how a reader feels and the way authors express themselves. The mood is depressing while the author expresses a negative tone towards war. Joe strongly dislikes that he is being forced to fight for something without meaning. This becomes depressing as more stories and encounters are told. Trumbo persuades the reader that war is basically just a place where men are sent to die.
The tone stays the same throughout the whole book unless Joe mentioned or talked about Kareen, his girlfriend. Whenever Joe talked about her, it was like little by little; every day he was getting farther and farther away from her. The mood and tone of a book always have a different outcome on the reader’s reaction to the story. It’s used to create a sense of emotion in such a way that you feel as if you were living within the characters. Last but not least, rhetorical questions. Trumbo uses and repeats many questions, leaving the reader to ponder upon them.
Joe continuously asks, what is honor? What is decency? What is freedom? Doesn’t that leave you thinking? Joe is told that a war is fought for freedom and liberty and to show honor for your country and to die honorably. But who’s the idea of honor or decency or freedom? It releases an anti-war message. It becomes very powerful throughout the book. Joe starts questioning many aspects of the war as I mentioned before. Trumbo makes it seem as if we were in Joe’s mind or asking ourselves these same questions.
In conclusion, I would’ve never come to realize the true, gruesome horrors of war if it wasn’t for this book. What difference does it make for soldiers dying on the frontlines for their country? Killing the opposing army? Or giving up your life when you don’t even know exactly what you’re fighting for and who knows if you’ll ever benefit from it? Imagery, mood and tone, and rhetorical questions have played a big role throughout this book. It’s incredible how the song of WW2 Johnny get your gun was motivating, convincing, and inviting. However, Johnny got his gun and he lost.
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Johnny Got His Gun. (2016, Dec 13). Retrieved from https://phdessay.com/johnny-got-his-gun/
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