"Any One of the Prisoners Would Have Been Willing to Die for His Country"
Koruda, Emily J. “"Any One of the Prisoners Would Have Been Willing to Die for His Country"”, Boston College, 2010. http://hdl.handle.net/2345/1212.
“Any one of the prisoners would have been willing to die for his country” (Chesley 68). This quote summarizes the unbreakable will of heroic American Prisoners of War (POWs). This paper explores the personal narratives of four POWs who were held captive during World War II and four who were held during the Vietnam War and seeks to determine how their discourse affects American ideologies of war. By examining these narratives through narrative criticism and Kenneth Burke’s Rhetoric of Rebirth, this analysis shows how POWs reveal the sociopolitical environments of the countries in which they are held by structuring their experiences under a common framework. While the four narratives concerning World War II shed light on the differences in captivity between different countries in the Axis Powers, the narratives from the Vietnam War rationalize American involvement in the conflict. Even though the Vietnam War was one of the most misunderstood and unpopular events in American history, this paper shows how personal POW accounts can justify and garner support for American intervention into foreign affairs. These survival narratives reveal a depth of human strength in the face of horrible circumstances that becomes an inspiration for audiences of this discourse.