“The Gift in Wartime” Poem by Tran Mong Tu Questions and Answers Class 11 English
Understanding the text
a. Who is the speaker addressing and why can that person not hear or understand what she is saying?
➜ The speaker is addressing an absent person (a lovable person). The person cannot hear or understand what she is saying because the person is no more.
b. What can you infer about the speaker’s feelings for the person addressed as “you”?
➜ I can infer that the speaker’s feelings for the person addressed as ‘you’ are so deep. She thinks him as her life. She misses him a lot. She remembers him every moment in her life. She feels her life incomplete without him. Her deep feelings can easily be seen in the first stanza where she offers roses and her wedding gown for her lovable person’s tomb.
c. What is the speaker’s attitude toward war?
➜ The speaker’s attitude toward war is quite negative. She has experienced the terrible war between America and Vietnam. She has lost the most lovable person of her life due to war. Due to the lack of him, she has been experiencing pitiable lonely life. She has presented various negative aspects of the war in her poem.
d. In what ways do you think this person’s fate has affected the speaker?
➜ I think this person’s fate has affected the speaker. The absent person who is mentioned here in this poem was a brave soldier who had got medals and a badge for his bravery in the war. In the war of America and Vietnam, he got killed in the bomb explosion. After his death, the speaker is experiencing his lack. She is quite sad in her lonely life. She keeps on remembering her lovable person all the time. The ill-fate of the person has made her helpless, loveless and miserable.
e. What does the speaker promise at the end of the poem? Why do you think the speaker does this?
➜ At the end of the poem, the speaker promises to meet her lovable person in their next life. She wants to hold shrapnel as proof to show him the reason behind his death and their separation. According to her, it will help them to recognize each other. I think the speaker does this because her love for the absent person is so deep. She wants to love with him again and again.
Reference to the context
a. What is the theme of the poem?
➜ The theme of the poem is the inhumanity and cruelty of the war and its negative impacts over humans. War never brings happiness for others but only snatches the happiness of others. It only invites disparity and dark future for others. Humans get extremely affected by war. War only provides gifts as death, blood, pains, loss, sorrows, destruction, downfall etc.
b. What imagery from the poem made the greatest impression on you? Why?
➜ The imagery is a literary device to represent things through the use of images. The speaker has used various images here in this poem to put forward her feelings against war. Here, we find images as roses on grave, wedding gown as a cover, a tomb with green grass, medals, badge, youth days, wardress with blood, clouds, winters, lips without a smile, arms without tenderness, eye without sight, the body without motion, shrapnel as a token etc. Here, the imagery from the sixth stanza made a great impression on me because here in the sixth stanza, the speaker relates to all those things which she has got from her missing lovable person. Due to the bad impacts of war, her lovable person has left her providing lips without a smile, arms without tenderness, eyes without sight and the body without motion. This stanza has shown the pitiable condition of the speaker’s lonely life without her lovable person.
c. Which figurative language is used in the poem? Explain with examples.
➜ Figurative language is phrasing that the goes beyond the literal meaning of words to get a message. We find the use of irony, apostrophe, anaphora, and metaphor as the figurative language here in this poem. The post has used imageries and metaphors much.
The title of this poem itself is ironic which refers to the gifts of war as pains, sorrows, losses, blood etc. to humans.
Next, the poet has also used the literary device of the apostrophe, which refers to a sudden exclamatory piece of dialogue addressed to someone or something, especially absent. Here in this poem, the speaker addresses an absent person and says him about the inhuman picture of war. Anaphora refers to the repetition of the same words at the beginning of a line. Here, the poet has used the same words at the beginning of the line as “You give me” in the second, fourth and sixth stanza. These words have been repeated thrice in the sixth stanza. Here, the poet has presented an irony relating with the gifts which the war, as well as her lovable person (a soldier), has provided her.
d. What does the speaker “offer” in this poem? What does the person addressed as “you” give in return?
➜ The speaker offers various things in this poem to her lovable person. She offers roses, her wedding gown, her youth, clouds, cold winters etc. The person addressed as “you” gives her the medals with shining stars, badge with yellow pips, the smell of blood from wardress, lips without a smile, arms without tenderness, eyes without sight, body without motion etc.
e. An apostrophe is a literary device in which a writer or speaker addresses an absent person or an abstract idea in such a way as if it were present and can understand. Discuss the poem in relation to apostrophe.
➜ This poem “The Gifts in Wartime” is about the inhuman picture of war and its effects on humans. Here, the speaker has perfectly made use of apostrophe where she is seen addressing an absent person. Here, she is using her convincing lines for the person who is no more. She tries her best to make him realise about her deep lovable feelings for him. From the first stanza to the last, she keeps on making the absent person realise about her presents, sacrifices, Ionely feelings, helplessness, the gifts of war as medals, badge, army dress with painful feelings, death, etc. She relates to him about her lonely life where she has experienced a lot of pains without him. She has even made him realise the main reason behind his death and their separation. This poem has presented the speaker and her dialogues for the absent person in such a way if the person is listening and understanding all her words. This poem has shown the bitter reality of war on humans through the speaker’s dialogues for her absent lovable person using the apostrophe.
Reference beyond the text
a. One way to get relief from grief is to write or talk about it. In your opinion, how might the speaker in this poem have benefitted from saying what she did? Explain.
➜ The speaker here in this poem has become successful to convey a serious message about the inhumanity of war to all her readers. War always invites a dark future for all. The victim in the battlefield isnt only the sufferer but also all those people who are closely connected with him/her. The speaker of this poem has also become the victim of the war along with her lovable person’s death. Here, the saying of the speaker related with her acts and her sacrifices in her lonely life might have benefited her to forward her experience of war as a sufferer to all her readers. The readers have got ideas about the bad impacts of war and its long term effects on humans through her painful feelings.
b. Write an essay on the effects of war.
➜ War is a situation or a period of fighting between countries or groups of people. War generally involves the use of weapons, a military organization and soldiers. War is a situation in which a nation enforces its rights by using force. War is the bitter reality through which the downfall of humans is created. It is good for nothing. War and its effects on humans are seen in both aspects: physical and psychological. War creates long term effects on humans. War invites a dark future for all. War never provides happiness to others but snatches the happiness of others. The victims of war always remain in fear. It snatches thousands of lives. Death, injury, sexual violence, malnutrition, illness, and disability etc are some of the most threatening physical consequences of war, while post-traumatic stress disorder (PSTD), depression, and anxiety are some of the psychological effects.