Walt Whitman: Poems

Equality in “The Wound-Dresser” and “Song of Myself” College

Equality in “The Wound-Dresser” and “Song of Myself”

The theme of equality permeates both “The Wound-Dresser” and “Song of Myself”. Whitman remarks upon judgments that others make and refutes them with his own ideas of impartiality. These manifest particularly strongly in Whitman’s attitude towards the bravery of soldiers in “The Wound-Dresser” and section 18 of “Song of Myself”. The narrators of both poems point out the valor of the men who fought for either army. The ways in which Whitman arrives at this depiction of equality, however, differ by poem. Through the vehicles of imagery and repetition, Whitman creates a certain tone for each work, which ultimately enables him to effectively demonstrate the equality of soldiers on both sides of the Civil War.

In section 18 of “Song of Myself”, Whitman does not recognize the traditional values of winning and losing. He plays “music strong” for the soldiers on both sides of the war, stating, “I play not marches for accepted victors only, I play marches for conquer’d and slain persons” (“Song” 362-363). He takes the inevitable byproduct of war, winners and losers, and demonstrates the worth of all men who fight. Whitman first emphasizes the schism, the “accepted victors” and “slain...

Join Now to View Premium Content

GradeSaver provides access to 725 study guide PDFs and quizzes, 4212 literature essays, 1403 sample college application essays, 171 lesson plans, and ad-free surfing in this premium content, “Members Only” section of the site! Membership includes a 10% discount on all editing orders.

Join Now

Already a member? Log in