Essay: The Theme of Observing/Following Duty to Country
The theme of observing the duty to one’s country is the main theme in both The Man He Killed by Hardy and The Unknown Citizen by Auden. Although both of this is shown in different versions, the soldier and the citizen have to hurt to get to be loyal to their country. There is death in The Man He Killed tormenting the soldier while the citizen has to be perfect by oppressing his feelings. This implies that in order for one to observe the duty of his country, he has to hurt others or hurt himself.
The Man He Killed is about a man who is shot after leaving his duties as it is written, “Was out of work—had sold his traps”. The man who shoots him is in the line of duty. We are meant to belief that the man who shoots is a soldier who is protecting the interests of his nation. The other man who is shot is also a solider who has betrayed the group of soldiers from his country and gone to the opposing side. No one is allowed to betray his own country for this will only lead to death. This is the only reason the other soldier has been shot; he has betrayed his country.
It does not matter who has betrayed the country for the soldier as to shoot him no matter what their relationship is. The soldier who does the shooting has a sympathetic tone as he sees the reason as to why the other solider has to be killed been minor. He explains that in war, the soldier has to shoot the best friend, a person who would treat him in a bar and help him greatly as he says, “Had he and I but met, By some old ancient inn, We should have set us down to wet”. This shows that there is no mercy in war for one has to observe the duties assigned to him by his nation. The soldier who is shooting is not shooting a stranger but somebody who he has met before and related well with. This shows that in deed war is curious and quaint.