The Gift in Wartime Summary

The Gift in Wartime” has been written by Vietnamese female writer, Tran Mong Tu. In this poem, she addresses an absent person who can neither hear nor understand what is saying. She talks about the war separated her beloved from her and she has kept something as a token of love so that he would Recognize her to be together in their next life.

The speaker’s beloved is not present because he had been killed in the war. She loved him very much. So, she is addressing him as if he is present and hear her. She offers him roses to burry in his new y (place where dead body is buried). She also offers her marriage clothes to cover the tomb which is green with grass. She offers him her youth when they used to be in love. She says that her youth bec useless when she heard the bad news of his death because her offered youth was not used and as She has become alone without her beloved and she could not be physically together with her so physical ecstasy. She offers him the clouds of summer days. She also offers him cold days even in her very joyful, youthful and romantic time of her life.

She says that her beloved gives her medals with silver stars. He also gives her yellow military badger which were not used and they are still brightening. She again says that he gives her the small blood from his military dress which he used in the wartime. She says very emotionally that he gives her smileles lips, loveless and careless arms, sightless eyes, and motionless body. In other words, he was killed in the war and she got his dead body without functioning organs.

At last, she apologizes and promises that she does not have luck to be together with him in this life. S she says that she will again meet him in their next life and wants to spend the days with him, for which she will keep fragments from exploding bombs as a token so that he will recognize her and live together This speaker in the poem expresses a bitter experience of the war that it always brings destruction. She has a tragic and lonely life without her most loveable person. She says that the effects of war are for long term and it is really difficult for the persons who have to live in the memory of the dearest person. The war is destructive; so it should be stopped forever so that no will be victimized by it during and after the war.

The Gift in Wartime Questions And Answer: Understanding the text

Answer the following questions. 

a. Who is the speaker addressing and why can that person not hear or understand what she is saying? 

Ans: The speaker is addressing to her beloved. The person cannot hear or understand what she is saying because he has been killed in the war and she has just the memory of him.

b. What can you infer about the speaker’s feelings for the person addressed as “you”?

Ans: The speaker’s feelings are profound as they used to love each other very much but now her beloved is not with her anymore because he has been killed in war. She has become incomplete and restless in his absence. Even after his death, she equally loves him as much as she used to. So, she offers roses and her wedding gown to cover his tomb to cuddle and protect him with her profound love. 

c.What is the speaker’s attitude toward war? 

Ans: The speaker’s attitude toward war is entirely negative because she is one of the witnesses whose beloved has been killed in the war. She has got a bitter experience of the war between America and Vietnam due to which there was a big number of casualties and the loss of property in Vietnam. The war has left long-term effects in Vietnamese. So, she totally dislikes wars.

d.In what ways do you think this person’s fate has affected the speaker? 

Ans: This person’s fate has affected the speaker very much. The speaker who is addressing as “you” is her beloved whom she loves very profoundly. This absent person has been killed in the war between America and Vietnam. Her beloved was a brave soldier who had got medals and pips (badges) for his gallantry in the war. After his death, the speaker is alone and restless without him. She has been disappointed with the result of the war. She has been missing him a lot. The person’s fate has made her alone, restless, helpless, and disappointed.

e.What does the speaker promise at the end of the poem? Why do you think the speaker does this?

Ans: The speaker promises to meet him in their next life at the end of the poem and she will hold that shrapnel as a gift (token) by which they will know each other. The speaker does this because she loves him deeply, infinitely, and eternally so that she will not like to depart from him in any life.

Reference to the context

a. What is the theme of the poem ?

Ans: The theme of the poem is the negative consequences of the war which is inhuman and cruel in nature as it always brings destruction. War always gives destruction of human beings and property as the gift. The speaker has also got the death of her beloved as the gift. And, she has the shrapnel as a token by which they will know each other in their next life. So, war always confiscates our freedom and happiness.

b. What imagery from the poem made the greatest impression on you? Why? 

Ans: Imagery is a literary device which is often explained as a picture evoked in the mind by words. The poet has used many images in the poem to express her strong negative attitude and feeling against war. She has used the images like roses on her beloved’s grave, wedding gown as a cover, a tomb with green grass, etc. Among these images, the image of her beloved’s dead body made the greatest impression on me because she loves him very much; and in response, she gets only his lips with no smile, arms without tenderness, eyes with no sight and his motionless body. So she is obliged to spend her life without him restlessly, pitiably and lonely in the memory of him which is not erasable at all.

C. Which figurative language is used in the poem? Explain with examples. 

Ans: The poet has used figurative language in the poem much are irony, anaphora and imagery. We find

the title of the poem is ironical because the reality of the war and the experience with her is contrasting as she has got the death of her beloved as the gift of the war. Actually, a gift means an object which is offered to someone as a token of love and happiness; contrasting to it, she has got a tragic demise of her beloved. The poet has used many images so that readers can visualize the scene of the war. She has used the images like roses, wedding gown, green grass, and so on. Another figurative language the poet has used is anaphora which is taken as the repetition of the same words in the beginning of the line. She has used it as “I offer you…” and “You give me…”.

d.What does the speaker “offer” in this poem? 

Ans: The speaker offers many things in this poem such as roses, her wedding gown, her youth, clouds, cold winters etc. The person addressed as “you” gives her in return are the medals, badge, smell of blood, lips with no smile, arms without tenderness, eyes with no sight and motionless body.

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.

Ans: This poem “The Gift in Wartime” presents the speaker’s experience of tragic demise of her dearest person due to the war whom she loves very much. The poet has used a literary device apostrophe to address her absent person as if he is present and understands her. She is speaking with the person who is no more with her. She his expressing her profound love in order to make him realize her deep love.

She offers roses, her wedding gown, her youth, clouds, etc. to him although he is no more with her. She has also presented that as if the absent person is there and gives her his medals, badge, smell of blood, senseless organs and the whole motionless body in return. She has mentioned the cause of their separation. So using the literary device apostrophe, she is able to present her feeling in an effective way as though the person whom she is addressing is listening to her and understands, what she has said.

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. 

Ans: Yes, it is true that one way to get relief from grief is to write or talk about it. The speaker in the poem “The Gift in Wartime” has expressed her bitter and tragic experience of the war in which she has lost her dearest person. If we release our grief through writing or talking, we feel that we get relief from it. Here, she seems to be successful to present her tragic, serious and negative consequences of the war through this poem to her readers. She has presented the scenes after the war that the people of that particular area have been suffering from its effects. The speaker is also a victim of the war that she has lost her beloved. Ironically, the speaker has presented the negative results of the war as the gift of wartime. She feels getting relief from this grief through this writing. 

b.Write an essay on the effects of war. 

Effects of War

War can be defined as an involvement in fighting between two or more than two countries. The nature of war is always destructive; so it brings only the destruction of human beings and property. The fruit of war is always bitter, pitiable and tragic.

Involvement in war by the countries is just to show their power and selfishness. If we go through the history of the First and Second World Wars, we can see the irreparable loss of human beings and property. Because of such wars, people suffering from various serious problems. Many parents have become childless as their lap is emptied. The wives of the deceased soldiers have become widows as their young husbands were killed very inhumanly and cruelly. The children of the deceased soldiers have become orphans. So they have to struggle a lot in their life. Similarly, the property has been destroyed as the opponent countries use modern weapons; even nuclear weapons to make a huge loss in enemy’s side where natural resources are collapsed. The land has become infertile and barren in which the farmers can cultivate nothing. Many soldiers have become handicapped due to the war. They have been facing many problems to survive which adds more pity in their sufferings.

Although people become modern, they become more brutal. In the name of controlling the world, they are trying to destroy it. Misuse of science and technology has also added a brick in the case of war. The existence of world remains on the tip of the fingers as if a button is clicked; it does not even take a second to be destroyed. The concept of war is the product of our inflated egos to be superior and more powerful which may take us to the lifestyle before the nomadic age.

In conclusion, the war was not good, is not good, and will not be good to human beings. It is only for destruction of human beings and property. So, in a single strong voice, standing together, let’s say-No war!!! Stop war!!!