Since the dawn of time and the evolution of man that accompanied it, there have been conflicts between individuals. Many of these conflicts are minor, but there are quite a few that have been seared into our minds as some of the most costly wars in terms of financial cost and cost of human life; among them are the Civil War, World War I, and World War II, specifically “D-Day” or the invasion at Normandy Beach. Also as long as there have been wars, there have been people that report back to the rest of the population about them. In the article written by Ernie Pyle, a renowned journalist, The Horrible Waste of War, the author takes a walk down a nightmare of a beach and pleads to the readers’ emotions to show truly what a waste war is, not only in material objects, but also in the deaths of so many young men. Comment by Nathan William Bollig: hook Comment by Nathan William Bollig: Thesis Statement
Ernie Pyle lived for the stories as many journalists do, but in many ways he was unique. He told the stories of the underdogs, the soldiers, in World War II. He would write about the daily hardships and strife that these men went through and as an embedded journalist he lived it with them. He worked with the troops and put himself in danger alongside the men that he wrote about. Pyle was a journalist that captured the scene of the war and his reporting humanized the war for many of his readers. He was later killed in April of 1995 while going early one morning to observe the advance of a well-known division of the Twenty-fourth Army Corps. Just one month short of a year after writing The Horrible Waste of War,. The New York Times wrote in their obituary for Pyle, “GUAM, April, 18–Ernie Pyle died today on Ie Island, just west of Okinawa, like so many of the doughboys he had written about. The nationally known war correspondent was killed instantly by Japanese machine-gun fire” (New York Times). Though a tragedy, Pyle died the way he would have wanted to, with the men that he had documented for so long. Comment by Nathan William Bollig: Historical background
One of Pyle’s more famous works The Horrible Waste of War, he embodies all that he wrote about. In the opening paragraph, Pyle sets the scene for the rest of the article. He opens with, “I took a walk along the historic coast of Normandy in the country of France. It was a lovely day for strolling along the seashore.” This is followed immediately with, “Men were sleeping on the sand, some of them sleeping forever. Men were floating in the water, but they didn’t know they were in the water, for they were dead.” The reader is given a vivid image of these bodies in the water and with it a strong feeling of sadness, despair, and horror. He took a seemingly mundane and normal beach scene and twisted it into something straight out of a horror movie. With this begins Ernie Pyle’s true pathos appeal, an appeal so moving and strong that the reader sees it in their mind, sees the gore and the carnage. Comment by Nathan William Bollig: Quotation Comment by Nathan William Bollig: analysis
“The water was full of squishy little jellyfish,” he writes. “…about the size of your hand. Millions of them. In the center each of them had a green design exactly like a four-leaf clover. The good-luck emblem. Sure. Hell yes.” Millions of jellyfish floating around the bodies of fallen soldiers, jellyfish with the symbol for good luck; it is a pathetic sense of irony. Had these men had a little more luck, they may still have been alive, maybe made it a little farther, but they were gunned down in their tracks. Again, the reader is struck by a sense of horror and sadness. With this entire opening to his article, Pyle not only grabs the readers interest, but also grabs at their heart. He starts with a very pathos heavy introduction and continues that theme throughout. Comment by Nathan William Bollig: analysis
Into the body of the article Pyle begins his sometimes latent yet more often blatant argument that war is wasteful with this quote: “The wreckage was vast and startling. The awful waste and destruction of war, even aside from the loss of human life, has always been one of its outstanding features to those who are in it. Anything and everything is expendable. And we did expend on our beachhead in Normandy during those first few hours.” Within that opening to his argument, there are also elements of pathos. His words paint a picture in the readers mind of almost a landfill scene and combining that with the death that surrounds it, Pyle quite effectively proves his point that war is wasteful. He uses phrases such as “vast and startling” and “anything and everything is expendable” to again keep the reader thinking with their hearts.
In later paragraphs he begins to list objects that he comes across while walking along the beach in what he goes on to describe as “this shoreline museum of carnage”, “There were LCT’s turned completely upside down, and lying on their backs, and how they got that way I don’t know. There were boats stacked on top of each other, their sides caved in, their suspension doors knocked off.” He goes along listing the wreckage on the shore for a while and though it is just a list, it too brings a sense of incredible enormity over the reader. Not only is this an effective display of pathos, it is also effective in supporting his claim that war is wasteful. “And yet we could afford it.” He ends with a scene with a couple of German prisoners being guarded by a couple of doughboys with Tommy guns and then, “If only all Germany could have had the rich experience of standing on the bluff and looking out across the water and seeing what their compatriots saw.” Had the Germans seen what a wreckage this single day was, perhaps it could have been avoided. Perhaps lives could have been saved. Perhaps there would be just a little less waste from war. Comment by Nathan William Bollig: is this enough analysis?
There is much less focus on Pyle’s ethical appeal, however the simple fact that Pyle wrote the article is ethos in and of itself. There was little to no logos in the piece, however. This does detract does not from the piece. Overall Ernie Pyle masterfully uses pathos to make the point that war is wasteful and leaves the reader with a feeling of hopelessness and sadness at the unnecessary waste of war. As history has told us, though, as long as there are people to fight, they will. War will be around forevermore along with its nonsensical devastation.
Pyle, Ernie. “The Horrible Waste of War.”, 16 Jun 1944. Web. 10 Sep 2013. Comment by Nathan William Bollig: Works Cited should be in alphabetical order