War Profiles by Fenton Johnson

Reading through some of the articles, this one stood out to me the most. Not only because it is visually organized and separated though numbered paragraphs, but also because of the author’s diction. He chose very descriptive words and uses a lot of other rhetorical devices such as personification and metaphors shown in phrases such as “moistening our cheeks with tear drops” and “Death, the new jester, holds the heart of my people in the hollow of his hand”, just to name a couple. The point of this piece is to illustrate the devastation, sadness, and fear that come with fighting in a war for both the soldiers themselves and their families. He uses quite a lot of rhetorical questions that engage the reader more and make him/her think about what he is asking. I have noticed that Johnson does not use cold, harsh language which one would expect to be used in pieces written about warfare. However, he does quite the contrary by romanticizing it. He uses more  positive, descriptive words instead of simply writing the actual word itself. By being as descriptive as he is, he is painting a picture for the readers. “No longer walk the merchant, lawyer, doctor, thief and toiler along the lighted path of this merry thoroughfare. The khaki makes all men one”. Instead of using the word “uniform” he refers to those as “khakis” which causes the reader to picture khaki colored men in uniform. Describing the way into battle as “lightened path” could be another way of saying that the men are heading towards the light also known as death. This article is filled with references that are similar to the ones mentioned which makes it an interesting read that requires some thought.


3 thoughts on “War Profiles by Fenton Johnson

  1. I agree with the original poster on the articles excellent use of descriptive language, I felt like the piece presents a very relatable progression from youth to death and vengeance. This imagery takes up a rather pro-conflict stance on life by using similar romantic phrasing and idealisms that are present throughout the New Freewoman magazines. That to me though is where the similarities end, as the War Profiles is rather accepting of the initial death safe in the comfort of knowing that the spirit of vengeance is theirs. The articles of the New Freewoman never really accept any form of dying/loss as a possibility.

  2. I think that while you are right about both articles speaking romantically about the events and scenarios they present, there is very little area of overlapping topic. You say “the articles of New Freewoman [doesnt] accept any form of dying/loss as a possibility.” Yes this is true but I don’t necessarily see the relevance to the original poster’s point. When comparing the two articles it might be more interesting to look for areas where the writers bring up subjects of something more than the material/mortal concepts and look more into the spiritual or metaphysical. Of course there is a prevalent amount of information regarding mortality in War Profiles, but there is most definitely something that touches on the emotions and thoughts behind it. This is the link that you might be looking for in order to compare it to Freewoman.

  3. I enjoyed War Profiles the most as well. I have always found the perspective of those who are left at home interesting. From what I have read the stories are typically not as dark as the soldiers perspective and even as the previous two comments state that the diction can seem even light-hearted in the way they talk about the town. The most striking part of these typical stories is the emptiness that is demonstrated “How desolate is State Street, now that
    w a r has come upon the land ! ” as this is a motif surrounding those who were left behind. To me the freewoman and the crisis are similar in that they both obviously fight for freedom and equality, however the similarity that I find most important is that both are made during or around war times. War, though the nastiest part of human existence for certain, has a rallying affect on allies. During WWII women and colored citizens were given more rights and respect as they manufactured and supplied the war effort. Fighting alongside on another eliminates the boundaries that separate races as now brothers fight and die together. As a nerdy example science-fiction writers typically form the unity of the world after an alien attack or threat. Once threatened by outside force humans tend to band together, such as if aliens descended then humans are likely to band together as a planet to fight off the enemies. Thus through great tragedy can come great opportunity. Another phrase that comes to mind is that “to create one must first destroy” this is not a perfect example but nonetheless it strikes me as relevant.

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