Analysis of “A Comrade to Comrades”

During the World War I era, many African Americans entertained the notion that Germany might treat their people more fairly than the United States currently was. The purpose of this article was to convince the African Americans that the mistreatment under German rule would be greater than their current situation.  Many words stood out to me, but these words seemed to fit into the same category: reminiscence of slavery. The author, Charles Young, implies that a loss to Germany would be a return to “slavery chains for our wives, sweethearts, mothers, fathers and children.” He then goes on to talk of “so many lashes for the offense, and One for Kaiser to boot,” which is how he sees the Germans treating the African American should they emerge victorious. By repeatedly bringing up their history of slavery, Young is trying to explain that the odds of improving their current situation and reaching their “aspirations for racial betterment” are much higher with the current United States than it would be to receive fair treatment from a regime ruled by the “German Military Machine.” The words used in this article not only accentuate the past of the African Americans, but also emphasize the ruthlessness and machine-like perception that many had of the German Regime.

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2 thoughts on “Analysis of “A Comrade to Comrades”

  1. I could not agree more. This article has motives beyond its patriotic emphasis. The retired colonel, who is obviously much older than his “colored officer comrade,” is reminiscing about the horrors of slavery to rationalize fighting against the German war machine. Rather than calling the present officer by his official title, the writer felt the need to emphasize his race when prefacing the letter. While the man may be from an era where things were different, slavery was abolished over 50 years prior to this letter. It is evident that the man feels the need to justify his patriotic pitch with his words about equality and its place in modern society. He feels that even if one is treated unfairly, he should still carry on with his duty, or else all Americans could end up in chains similar to those that the African American slaves wore for decades. If the man truly saw his “comrade” as an equal, then he would not need to include his race or the history of slavery in his pitch to win the war.

  2. I agree with the comment above when said that the man did not see him as an equal because he included his race, but I also think it has a lot to do with the generation he was in. I personally would not include someone’s race when talking about them, but before my great grandmother passed away I would always ask her or my mother why she used certain terms or had a different outlook on things that we do not have today. Growing up during slavery times or even shortly after slavery was abolished things were different than it is today just like things we say today will be different in other generations due to new laws or just change in general.

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