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Three of Kipling’s poems, Young British Soldier, Tommy and Gunga Din were all components to a volume of poems entitled the Barack-Room Ballads. They were written in a Cockney dialect to gain support for the British military during the World Wars from the larger population of lower class people. They were used to convince the public that if they did not financially support the war efforts, they would be dishonorable. The duty of the people was to show support for the fighting.
It was the only way they could show their loyalty to the cause and their country, and contribute to it.
Kipling’s poems, in a way, were propaganda and the intent of the messages to the people were received. It convinced many to be eager to do their honor and duty to help the war effort by donating money and young men to join the army. Cash flow increased and soon the British ranks were filled with fresh soldiers from all classes.
In addition to the effects on the citizens, the poems were also used to increase the feeling of honor and duty among the soldiers serving in the military.
They became classic military fighting slogans that inspired courage and persistence through some of their harsh conditions. In Tommy, it was spoken about the poor treatment received when they entered local pubs or walked along the streets. The soldier of Kipling’s time defended the British Empire but was also picked at because of his low birth in the class system.
A large portion of the soldiers who entered the military were just commoners. Gunga Din focuses more around race.
The main character is an Indian water boy who carried water for British soldiers. He is treated as a lowly servant, yet is also seen as courageous when he is needed by a soldier on the battle-field. The poem is written through a soldier’s eyes and describes Gunga Din’s abuse from the others due to his dark skin tone. Kipling’s The Young British Soldier depicts a fighting soldier’s experience in the Afghan Wars. Twelve thousand British soldiers were killed and it was named Auckland’s Folly because it had been such a disaster to Britain.
It explains how the young british soldier is expected to fight with duty and honor and contrarily describes the horrific experiences that soldiers would go through on the battlefield. Kipling’s poems impacted the British public greatly; it helped pull in money for the vast expenses of war while at the same time drawing in needed recruits for their military. For the soldiers who faced brutal deaths on the battlefields, the poems were chanted with pride and they helped lessen the painful reality.
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