Sassoon’s protest: Base Details. Objective: To analyse the impact of Sassoon’s poem, Base Details. Analysis of language. Look at the annotations in your anthology. Have you paid close attention to the language and techniques? My example is below :
Objective: To analyse the impact of Sassoon’s poem, Base Details
Look at the annotations in your anthology. Have you paid close attention to the language and techniques? Myexample is below:
You’d see me with mypuffy petulant face / Guzzling and gulping at the best hotel… / And when the war is done and youth stone dead, /I’d toddle safely home and die – in bed.
Imagery suggests an unhealthy, irritable appearance
The alliteration and choice of words emphasise haste, carelessness and greed.
‘toodle’ is to ‘walk with short feeble steps, as a child does’ (Chambers dict.)
‘youth’ – contrasts with image of the Major.
Question- Howdoes Sassoon express his protest against the war through his poetry?
P- Answer the question –pick a key adjective or verb then find a technique or explore word choice.
E- Your quotation
A- Explore word choice, techniques.
To achieve your best you need to push yourself.
I = Interpretation; C= Context; E= Evaluation
I- Can it be read or ‘said’ in any other way to change its meaning?
C- What do you know of Sassoon’s motivations and experiences –did these affect why he wrote this way?
E- What is the effect on the reader- what were Sassoon’s intentions?
Sassoon portrays the subject of ‘Base Details’, an old Major, as a privileged individual who is removed and protected from the horrors of war:
You’d see me with my puffy petulant face
Guzzling and gulping at the best hotel…
And when the war is done and youth stone dead,
I’d toddle safely home and die – in bed.
Sassoon creates a very tightly structured poem, in which he concentrates many pointed adjectives that create an unflattering image of the Major. He uses alliterative phrases, such as ‘puffy petulant’: this emphasises the unhealthy and irritable appearance of the Major, which can be closely related to his greed through the use of ‘guzzling and gulping’. The phrase ‘best hotel’ pointedly indicates that the Major is enjoying not only the luxury of good food and drink, but also comfortable accommodation. The final two lines of the poem are strongly emphasised by the use of a rhyming couplet and Sassoon’s bitter use of contrast, between ‘youth stone dead’ and the Major ‘safely’ dying ‘in bed.’ The word ‘toddle’ appears to ridicule the Major as being no more than a child, which links to the word ‘safely’, reinforcing the fact he is protected from the war.
However Sassoon might not simply be portraying one particular Major but creating a satirical image of many of the senior officers from the time of the First World War.
Sassoon saw it as vital to alertreaders during the time of the First World War to what he saw as a War “being deliberately prolonged by those who have the power to end it” (excerpt from his protest statement of 1917). The Major in ‘Base Details’ certainly is a figure associated with power, as much as privilege.
Sassoon writes in a strongly satirical manner to draw the public’s attention to the inequalities of war. I believe that the poem’s sharply focused word choice, use of alliteration and tightly structured rhyme scheme creates a powerful argument.