"Weapons Training" by Bruce Dawe, is an 'anti-war' poem, a dramatic monologue in which an instructor is teaching new recruits about their weapons in preparation for the Vietnam War. His voice is aggressive and demanding, the tone of the instructor is disciplined and hard on his students. The poem has a negative tone to it because it is about men being trained in the use of devices that will kill other men. The reader senses the atmosphere of a training area, and knows that the soldiers will most likely not return home. It focuses on the instructor's use of language, and the imagery is aggressive. The reader's response is a realisation of the reality and brutality of war.
A representation is an interpretation or a way of viewing a manifestation of a concept in the real world. It can, therefore be real or abstract. Conflict, is defined by the Oxford English Dictionary as a meeting of opposing parties. Conflict is an eminent part of this poem. The main types of conflict identified in this poem are ideological / political conflict between the Vietnamese and the American/Australians and interpersonal conflict between the soldiers and the Sergeant. These are represented by Dawe in a very clever way; by the use of gaps, foregrounding, silences, and positioning the reader in order to represent his hate towards war.
The two opposing parties in this poem are the 'Americans/Australians' and 'Vietnamese." They differ greatly in their ideologies and have different ideologues since one believes in Democracy and the other Communism. Although Dawe believes in a democracy (as he is representing his views against the government in the form of a poem - which would be a crime in a communist state) he is an Australian that hated war; thus this poem, graphically represents the viciousness and brutality of war. Therefore, since he hated war, he only represents the brutality of war; he makes use of a silence and simply doesn't bring up the issue of the reasons for war. He simply thinks of was as an unnecessary for the war to take place, no ifs, buts or maybes.
Secondly, Dawe also makes use of gaps in the text. He expects the responders to know to some extent the horrors of war and conflict. Although he provides graphic imagery, he expects the responders to be able to relate them to their own personal experiences, hence enhancing the quality of this poem by creating a direct link between the responders and death due to war and ideological conflict. Thirdly, and most importantly, Dawe uses foregrounding and language features to attract attention to his views on war and its horrors. He represents this conflict in the form of graphic imagery which adds to the emotive dimension of the reader; thus creating interest through tension and the responders' past experience.
As a dramatic monologue, the structure of "Weapons Training" focuses on the instructor's use of language to capture in a sadistically amusing way the speech and attitudes of a military instructor. This is an effective attack on attitudes of man as an extension of the military and war, which illustrates the poet's ideas and emotions, and further influences the reader's response. Dawe's beginning with 'and' indicates that the drill sergeant has been talking when the reader enters the scene, and his language is a continuous stream, with fluency, proficiency and abundance of utterance. Therefore, giving the impression to the reader as if they are inside a soldier and he had not been listening and only rejoined the conversation. This further adds to the emotive dimension of the poem as it creates a direct link between the readers and the Sergeant; through the eyes of a conscript.
The speech is one long utterance that never does come to a full stop; there are rhetorical questions to raise the accent and threat of the voice rather than relieve the outpouring of words, .".. only to find back home because of your position; your chances of turning the key in the ignition; considerably reduced? allright now suppose... ." In this example, Dawe uses a rhetorical question to create an atmosphere that is strict and disciplined. These questions are tonal clues suggesting contempt and dismay. Also, "turning the key in the ignition", apart from being an obvious reference to sex, serves to give the soldiers hope by reminding them of coming back home. These question marks are tonal clues suggesting contempt and dismay - clues to the relationship between teacher and student rather than obstacles to the flow of dramatic monologue.
The structure of the poem is of a voice firing at the reader with the rate of machine gun bullets. The reader's response is the impression that if the talk is loud and fast enough, the threat of reality and possible inner conflict may be kept at a distance. However, insecurity lies beneath the aggressive flow of words especially in the last line; "and do you know what you are? You " re dead dead dead", which is consistent with Dawe's views on the reality of war, and invokes the same response from the reader. In this satirical dramatic monologue, sexual references form the main type of imagery. The drill instructor taunts a recruit by asking him "are you a queer?" The "old crown-jewels" have to be tucked away during cockpit drill or the recruits will not be able to "turn the key in the ignition" on returning home, and "the magazine man it's not a woman's tit." These sexual references also enhance the effectiveness of the poem by creating an more 'home-like' mood within the soldiers, thus increasing their will to fight and return back home.
The imagery used in there example also relates to violent satire. The poet's reference to sex also conveys the atmosphere of an all-male environment under the stress of war. However, the images also make the voice appears defensive rather than offensive, for there is shallowness in his words, and always the threat "of the little yellows" and "a brand-new pack of Charlies." In turn, this influences the reader's response, for there is a reminder of reality; that the game they all play is war. The conscripted soldiers need to be numbed of all emotion when on the field. Crude, racist jargon is used so they will view the enemy as subhuman and feel no emotion for them. Furthermore, the officer may be seen by the responder as malicious; but this is not the case since he is doing his job.
And he will do anything to keep the soldiers alive. Also, there is no clear structure and the rhyme scheme is unobtrusive, which emphasises the monologue form of the poem. The repetition of "T" and "I" sounds in words like "click" and "pitter-patter" are onomatopoeic and sound like weaponry. The soldiers are being turned into weapons themselves (so that their gun is merely an extension of themselves). In conclusion, "Weapons Training" by Bruce Dawe, is an 'anti-war' poem, a dramatic monologue in which an instructor is teaching new recruits about their weapons in preparation for the Vietnam War and to give them adrenalin boosts to remove the fear that may exist among them. Conflict is an eminent part of this poem.
The main types of conflict identified in this poem are ideological / political conflict between the Vietnamese and the American/Australians and interpersonal conflict between the soldiers and the Sergeant. These are represented by Dawe in a very clever way; by the use of gaps, foregrounding, silences, and positioning the reader in order to represent his hate towards war.