What makes a literary work truly unforgettable? An original idea that captures the attention of its readers will make anything unforgettable. A piece of literature that makes its readers read beyond the first sentence, to know the rest of the plot, makes a piece of work memorable.
John Brown is an anti-war lyric written by American singer-songwriter Bob Dylan in 1962. In the poem, we see a young man going to war and his mother being proud of him and telling him to bring back medals once he returns from war. This action shows her naivety of believing that her son will return from war safely. She goes around telling all her neighbours about how her son is going to serve the country. When John Brown returns, we see the physical and mental damages that he has gone through. He reveals the realities of war to his mother, how the war was not as noble as it is portrayed to be. He says that when his enemy came closer to him, he saw that it was just another human being like him! And this made him realize that he was just a puppet in the hands of powerful people. He hands over the medals he received for his “honourable feat” to his mother, and it makes the readers question if all the trauma he went through was worth it for a few scraps of metal.
This poem sheds light on the dangers and futility of war and how war affects the lives of not only the person who went to war but also their families. It makes us wonder if the trauma that war carries is worth the mental and physical pain that one suffers for life.
Becoming a soldier and fighting in a war is shown as being noble initially as we see a mother bragging about her son for going to a war, which makes us believe that participating in war must be honourable. But as the poem proceeds, we see a drastic change in atmosphere, and readers recognize the twisted side of the war, other than the one portrayed at the start. John Brown’s mother expected him to come back home safely with medals, not realizing that only a few return home and are celebrated, while most other soldiers perish. She was so preoccupied with the glory of war that she did not consider the effects war would have on her son forever.
The people in power do not care about the lives of the soldiers fighting, all they care about is the glory that comes with war. All that matters is the victory, but not the millions of lives that the war itself affects negatively. John Brown realises this on the battlefield and is shocked by the false image of war that has been sold. This poem is written in simple language but it has such a deep meaning and strong anti-war sentiments which truly makes it unforgettable!