“Conflict is universal and comes in many forms, the conflicts we face and the way in which we deal with them shape our being”.
Conflict in all its varying form’s is a universal theme in our world. Where there is no conflict there is no life. It is the driving force by which change occurs. The outcome of a conflict determines to a large extent how we are affected, but what really shapes us is the type of conflict we face and how we go about confronting the various and inevitable forms of conflict that are a constant factor in human life and what we do or do not learn from the experiences.
Conflict is defined as – a struggle to resist or overcome, a contest of opposing forces.
Winning and losing are superficial terms that are applied to conflict but are not the only indications of the change that has resulted – they are only perceptions in people’s minds. We are changed by conflict as a whole; the outcome, the type of conflict and how we face it are all factors in how much or how little the conflict will change us. There are hundreds of conflicts we face each day, and every seemingly insignificant one has an impact on who we are.
” It is not whether you win or lose, its how you play the game.”
In this area of study conflict has been changed from a rather two dimensional connotation of the word consisting of only winners and losers to a more holistic view of how conflict internally and subtly motivates and shapes us. Conflict means change… or forces change upon people, be they victors, the defeated, whether they embrace it or not. This is proven in the area of study texts
There is nothing either good or bad but thinking makes it so. – William Shakespeare
Father and son is an example of conflict between the generations and the expectations parents place on their offspring. It is based on the composers (Cat Stevens) own experiences. The song is a conflict of passions; the father having lost his while the son is just discovering the world and all it has to offer. The father has done the things beckoning to his son and tries to impose on the son his own desires based on his experiences. The son after many years of putting up with his father reign decides he must leave to find his place in the world. He feels caged by his father’s opinions and views of him.
The father tells his son he is not ready for the world and patronises his son by telling him he lacks life experience, even as he is denying it from his son. The father’s advice is to not follow his own desires, as he may get hurt in the process. This stemming from the fathers own experience of the world. Clichï¿½d sayings make the fathers argument considerably weaker. The son expresses his feelings of isolation and frustration at his father for overruling his wants and desire for his life. He seeks to find his own identity away from his fathers counsel and feels that he must leave in order to do so. He will not be conformed by his father. He states that it is harder to deny his own ambitions then to conform to his father’s plans for him.
” I know I have to go”
One might as well try to ride two horses moving in different directions, as to try to maintain in equal force two opposing or contradictory sets of desires. — Robert Collier
Father and son is written in a simple but effective way. It is a colloquial, first person song; this allows us to relate more to the characters emotions and ideas. The juxtaposition between the father and son contrasts the two differing opinions and emotions and escalates the war of passions between them. The father is represented as an authoritarian an overbearing person in that he does not ask or plead with his son…. he tells him, this coupled with the well worn clichï¿½s he uses, relays to us an insight of why the son feels he must leave. It serves to make the responder think of the similar figures in their life and to empathise with the son. Cat Stevens use’s emotive language to emphasize the son’s frustrations and feelings. The son express his profound hurt to himself adding to the depth of emotions and tension in the poem. The son emotive language and yearning and the fathers dispassionate reasoning perfectly contrasts the two individuals. The effect of the song is a personal one, making us consider the generational conflicts that we have been involved in with our parents and how we felt at the time.
The theme behind “father and son” is one of generational conflict. Conflict between parents and their offspring is universal, it is an accepted fact of maturing and developing that there will be strife between the generations. Probably the main reason why father and son is such a powerful song is that nearly everyone who listens to it can relate to it and the frustrations and angst felt by the son or the parental concern for their offspring. The very use of clichï¿½s by the father is a testament to how common this conflict is, there would be no clichï¿½s if this conflict weren’t common. This form of conflict is common to mankind, but comes in infinite degrees and variations depending on the people involved, it is clichï¿½ in itself that generational conflict comes in many different and diverse forms. Conflict shapes the person we are-
The conflict in father and son will shape and change the father and the son. After years of the son’s inner conflict escalating, it has manifested itself in that the son no longer feels he can live with his father’s decisions regarding his life. There seems to be no solution to the conflict between them and the sons decision of leaving his father will obviously be a pivotal moment in the sons life and is obviously a crucial factor in which direction the sons life will head from there on. If there was no conflict between the father and the son, and the sense of dislocation and frustration that had built up over the years wasn’t there, then there would be no drastic decision to leave and start a new existence for the son. There would be no angst or bad feelings between the father and the son, which will result from this conflict. Conflict shapes who we are, this is a conflict that will have a profound impact on the father and son relationship and will change them both and their ongoing relationship as a result.
The song Father and son were written out of the composer’s own experiences. Cat Stevens came from a Greek based family and his father was much like the father his autobiographical song. In his recent autobiography Cat Stevens stated “his temper was sometimes a bit too much for some of us” and ” I do remember a bit of shouting in our household”. In regards to parenting he said, “I would become an object of a tug-a-war between them, my father usually won. Strangely though I was always closer to my mother”.
Like the son in the song, Cat Stevens rebelled against his parents but mainly against his father’s authority over him. In regard to what his father wanted him to do he completely refused to go along to path that his father had strongly advised him to go on. He left his family at 17 to go to art school and followed his dream of music, in stark contrast to the typical (neuvau Anglo – Saxon) view that his father held that Cat Stevens should become an accomplished lawyer or businessman, and be a success in his father’s eyes.
Cat Stevens conflict with his father and his ways lead him down a path to become an international musician, without his father stifling his desires he probably would never have left home so young.
Perhaps the greatest show of rebellion to his family’s ways can be seen in an extract from his autobiography.
” Ironically, considering I have now converted to Islam, my upbringing was very anti Muslim. Essentially, the Greeks and the Turks were enemies, so I adopted the stance of my father and hated everything about the Turks.
Father and son is much like Robert Lowell’s ‘Commander Lowell’. They are similar in that they both are written from a son’s perspective on their fathers, and that they both show discontentment and conflict in their relationships with their fathers. The conflict Lowell has with his father shows that generational conflict is universal as Lowell wrote commander Lowell nearly fifty years before father and son came out. In reality cat Stevens own struggle for independence and him shunning his family for his own wants closely resembles Lowell and his conscientious objection and all his actions he engaged in to distance him self from his family.
Both Lowell and Stevens wrote their songs out of their own experiences with their fathers and they both rebelled against they fathers values in real life. Whereas father and son is more direct and open, commander Lowell is a blacker, more suppressed poem and the tension that underlies the poem is expressed in Lowell’s “study” of his father. It is interesting to note that while father and son is a deeply personal poem, freely expressing to sons frustration with his father, commander Lowell also to an extent becomes insightful into Lowell’s feelings and frustrations – interesting because commander Lowell is such a formal and matter of fact writing, not given to Lowell’s feelings.
” For my father was nothing to shout about”
” And I, bristling and manic, skulked in the attic.”
Commander Lowell is a very formal and structured poem. It is a “study” of Robert Lowell’s father and his transgressions. It is also a valuable insight into Lowell’s life as he was growing up. Lowell’s scrutiny of his father is very obviously not wholly complimentary. A Navy man whose interest in ships is basically academic, whose main connection with Pearl Harbour is that he once bought “white ducks” at the commissary there, and whose way of celebrating giving up naval life for a position with Lever Brothers’ Soap is to sing “‘Anchors aweigh'” in the bathtub, he is portrayed as a fool and an embarrassment to his sect. The only time he displays a “seamanlike celerity” is when he leaves the Navy – only to squander a small fortune in the less secure civilian world. Lowell stacks all the evidence against his father which builds him up to the conclusion that ‘commander Lowell” is a rather foolish character and that Lowell obviously harbours some bitterness to his father.
Lowell writes about his experiences and of his mother and father in a formal- colloquial style. It would not seem conversationalist today but was back then. He has no rhyming structure and writes in a dissociated way, a tone that does not let us see the full emotions that Lowell obvious felt about the people he was connected to but more of an underlying tension in the poem, an undercurrent that gives us the feeling that there is definite conflict going on, if not in the open.
Lowell belittles his father with lines and phrases that show that his father does not fit into the society in which he lives, one of the more obvious forms of Lowell’s negative observations regarding his father is that “he was once successful enough to be lost / in the mob of ruling class Bostonians.
Lowell’s poem has the effect of the responder regarding Lowell’s father as a kind of quixotic type failure, though lacking nobility. There is obviously an underlying tension, which is hard to pinpoint but is evident in the writer’s tone. The conflict, if more repressed in this poem can be easy classed as generational conflict, the shape of this conflict is obviously different to that of father and son. It is a colder more bitter conflict, like cold steel as compared to cat Stevens burning desire to be free. It is a proof to how conflict and the expression of conflict is varied depending on the people involved.
Lowell has several poems, which are based on his experiences with his father. His father and mother but more especially his father seems to have a great influence on his writing as Lowell devotes his efforts in ‘dissecting’ his fathers ways and faults. Obviously this stems from Lowell’s perceptions and ideas about his father, interestingly even though there is obviously a conflict going on between the two, the poems Lowell wrote about his father are some of the most successful writings he accomplished. This could be seen as one of the ways the conflict with his father changed him as he devoted his poems to the study of his father and his own seething attitudes towards him. The poems then became critically acclaimed, making Lowell a recognised Great writer.
The conflict with his father produced the stimulus by which Lowell was made famous for. The more obvious aspect of how Lowell was changed by his father or was moulded by his inner conflict with his father was that he rebelled and ‘disgraced ‘ his aristocratic family by becoming a conscientious objector. He caused his family considerable trouble because of his deeds and his thoughts on his family made public were not accepted well by his family. If there was no angst between Lowell and his father then Lowell would have had different material to base his early poems on and he may have been more sympathetic to his families social disgrace. The conflict he had with his father obviously affected him enough to put it on paper and that is proof enough that he was changed or shaped in some way by the experience.
Commander Lowell is much like Robert Lowell’s later poem West Street and Lepke. The link between the two poems is that strangely Lowell has become like his father – past his prime and regretting it. And like his father he manifests by acting like a rather lost person full of past regrets. Lowell’s fire breathing Co” Catholicism echoes his fathers “anchors aweigh” and his vain pursuit of something that was unachievable. Both Lowell and commander Lowell wanted something that was beyond their reach, Lowell with the passion of his youth and his lost memories and his father with his naval obsession. The failure to attain these things that they have pursued in their lives have left them feeling empty and tranquillised – and feeling like shadows of their former, younger selves. He has become what he attacked his father for in his early poems – rather eccentric and being a non-conformist to the society that he is supposed to fit in with. This adds a new perspective on the generational conflict idea
Perhaps the easier link to make between the two poems is that the same man wrote them both and they are both similar in style and structure. Both have underlying tensions and both hint at conflict that is not mentioned in any of the words but is inferred when taken in totality of the poems.
Memories of West Street and Lepke shuttles back and forth between the comfortable Lowell living in Boston in the 1950’s and his recall of the year he spent in a New York jail as a conscientious objector. The poem is focused on Lowell’s present sluggishness and loss of passion and self loathing and him reliving memories of when he felt he was doing something worthwhile with his life – his passion filled days. It is Lowell’s own self-analysis of himself in comparison his earlier self. In the poem are many characters to which Lowell relates to, the most important being the sad Czar Lepke. Lowell sees in the Czar what he has become. The poem explores conflict at a personal level but Is able through its wider implications to address the state of Lowell’s country as he saw it in the nineteen fifties. Lowell’s greatness is that he is able to explore conflict on a personal, political and social context simultaneously.
Memories of West Street and Lepke is written in the same logistic and precise way in which Commander Lowell was written. The distance between Lowell and his experience gives the poem its tension, the sense that something is being withheld rather then yielded. The arrangment of details and scenes invites us to make comparisons and contrasts upon Lowell in the present and in the past and to analyse his feelings. Finally all the characters in the poems have the feel that they have been deliberately chosen and placed. The poem’s selective organization teases the discerning responder towards meaning. Lowell also uses many metaphors like ‘book worming’ and ‘hog” and later “sheepish” in an attempt to convey a domesticity about himself, something he perceives as degrading himself.
In west street and Lepke, his earlier conflict with him being imprisoned for his beliefs has shaped him to the extent that he remembers it as a good thing in comparison to himself now, it is a measuring stick which hes uses to gauge his present self. In the first conflict he was ” fire breathing” full of passion, the conflicts he faced then made him fire breathing in his opposition to the war. The present conflict when compared to his earlier conflicts and passion he felt when he was ‘telling off the president” make him feel tranquillized and hardly passionate. His inner conflict is changing him to make him more and more melancholy. This is compared to and is a direct result from the passion he felt when he was fighting battles as a CO. The inner conflict Lowell feels now and his loss of passion are turning him into his father, full of lost ambitions and realising that, a more sad man for it.
“Most men live life in quiet despair” Descartes
“Ought I to regret my seedtime?” Should he resent it for turning him into the less fulfilled person he is now?
In West street and Lepke the conflict has shifted from Lowell’s resentment of his father to a raking scrutiny of himself and his present mood. It is inner-conflict he is feeling, as he directs all his thoughts and perceptions to himself. His self-judgements are very harsh on himself and it there obviously causing him much turmoil and agony to write such a poem about his conflict. Inner conflict is a very common theme on planet earth; we all are formed or malformed by its experience. This is a perfect example of inner conflict and how its affects everyone – it is universal.
As well as being a scathing self analysis of himself in later days, West Street and Lepke is also has political undertones, which only subtly appear in the poem. Lowell wrote this poem in the nineteen fifties, at the height of the cold war. Much of West Street and Lepke represent on a different level the state of America at the time. The assumption is that Lowell is much like America, tranquillized, lobotomised and drifting towards unknown purposes. It is this political analysis, a shadow of Lowell that links west street and Lepke to the similar study of America – banks of marble. Banks of marble is also a very political song written about the state of America and the negative powers/ forces that are shaping the country. Banks of marble is much more open about the negative aspects of Americas politics then Lowell’s poem is and is in a much more accessible style. They both have misgivings about the state of the country that they live in and they both express it in their works.
Banks of marble is a powerful song that was written in the nineteens fifties by Les rice but was typically known as a Pete seger classic. It depicts the sad state f the world that human desires have formed. It shows the unfairness and the inequality of the world we exist in, and is a deep insight to the nature of man.
The conflict represented is one of power, the symbols of power being money in this text. Banks of marble shows the inequality of power between the poor and the rich.
The idea behind the song is that the capitalist / globalist banks horde all the money that decent people have worked for while the people who earned that money are in rags, exploited and abused by the system that they are inadvertently funding.
The main idea in banks of marble is conveyed in simple scenes that depict what it is like for the common worker to suffer under this conflict. The song ends with the composer hoping that people would group together to make a stand over this exploitation and abuse of hard working people.
Banks of marble is written in a simple but effective way. It is a first person poem helping us to directly relate to the composer’s views. It is written from an outside perspective, like a person who has been in isolation and is amazed at what he sees. This makes us view the conflict in a wider and more holistic sense, it also adds to the emotional depth as the composer generates the feeling that the conflict happening is neither natural nor just. The composer has a scathing attitude to the bank and an empathetic tone towards the workers, he sympathises with them for being pitted against an impervious foe. He highlights the frustration and agony felt by the workers with emotive language and short concise sentences. The use of repetition reinforces how common and widespread this evil is.
The composer uses simple irony’s to make us think about the absurdity and unfairness of the system, in that the worker provides the wealth but partakes of so little of it. He does this through simple scenes depicting poor workers. The composer speaks of travelling to “mighty” and “wondrous” and “shining” lands which highlights the irony of people being forced into bankruptcy in such a land of plenty.
Banks of marble educates the responder as to the truth of politics and mankind’s greed. It evokes in the responder sadness, anger and despair to think of the attributes the cause this gross unfairness is part of human nature and structure.
“From the basis of the earth there is enough for everyman’s need, but no enough for everyman’s greed” Mahatma Ghandi
The conflict in banks of marble is universal because the conflict shown is the way our world operates and what we base all of our systems on. It may seem fair in principle but is very unfair in practice. It is a system, made by the rich, for the rich. Justice is only for people who can afford it, globalisation and all of its agendas, wage inequalities, exploitation and cheap labour exemplifies this. The “banks of marble” and the inequalities that ooze from them exist all over the globe, testifying to how widespread this ‘subtle and insidious conflict” is. The conflict represented in Bank of marble is certainly universal, greed and the exploitation and pain that accompany it are found all over the world. This conflict is different to the other area’s of study (conflict texts) in that it incorporates personal pain and conflict against a societal, structural conflict that manifests itself in as many forms as there are people on this earth.
This conflict is based on symbols. The symbols that fuel the conflict in this text are money, the differences in money between the poor and the rich and the unfairness of the situation being the point of conflict. If there were no conflict between the banks- symbolizing the rich and the poor worker then there would be food for all as the composer states in the song. This conflict has made these people poor and in the situation they are in. Without the exploiters that the banks symbolize, and without their greed there would be no conflict between the banks and the poor workers. If the banks were not hoarding all the money that the workers strived and sweated to earn, and the workers partook in a decent share of what they worked for then these people would have a totally different lifestyle then they do now, as poverty influences their whole outtake on life. With out this conflict the banks would not be made of marble and the rich wouldn’t be as rich, the workers money and the banks would serve the poor and bitter.
This conflict is not so much openly seen as a conflict, but more of a blithe acceptance of the ‘facts of life’. This conflict and the system in which it operates in has not so much changed these people as it has shaped them to what they are now. It has forced them since birth to be in acceptance of this unfairness, which causes other conflicts in their life as a result from this higher conflict. They face this conflict by enduring it; their life’s have been influenced by and moulded by the conflict. The conflicts we face and the way in which we deal with them shape our being”. This conflict has shaped these people to what they are today.
Banks of marble and Rain on the scarecrow are very similar in that they both express pain and struggle due to the omnipresent bank. They both express the mental and personal anguish that the banks force on hard working people and they both sympathise with and argue for the working person. They are both examples of the conflict that exists between the rich and the poor. Both songs are written in a simple, easy to understand way but Rain on the scarecrow is more colloquial and less philosophical then banks of marble. Each song was written to show the unfairness that exists between the common worker and the banks that control all they have worked for.
Rain on the scarecrow almost seems like a detailed version of one of the scenes in banks of marble, an extended vision of unfairness taken straight out of banks of marble. The two songs are both based on the same idea of inequity and injustice, and both express the pain that is a result of it
Rain on the scarecrow is a colloquial, first person song that centres on a man who has lost his farm to the bank, and the conflicts that arise in this man as a result of it. It is a mans conflict with a higher power that he himself helped construct. It shows the emotions and agony felt by this man and the repercussions that arise at the loss of his farm
Tied into rain on the scarecrow are many scenes and ideas that show how attached this man was to his farm and the agony and despair he feels at losing it. The song involves many different forms of conflict but seems to centre n this mans intense personal pain. It is an expression to the emotions and bitterness he feels.
Rain on the scarecrow is a first person song, this immediately makes the composers ideas and thoughts seem more personal and relevant. It is written in a simple, effective form, which allows the composer to easily relate his struggles to the responder and the responder to easily understand the conflict that is happening. Early on in the song the composer shows his connection and ties to his farm that he has lost making the conflict much more heartbreaking for him and allowing the responder to see how much this conflict is affecting him.
The composer uses music, which is slow and mournful to imply a feeling of desolation within the song. The singers voice bespeaks pain and suffering. In the song are many forms of symbolism, the 97 crosses, rain beating down on the scarecrow, the scarecrow – a symbol of the farm, references to the bible and dying and blood on the plough. These all combine to give the impression of death and remorse about the farm and the situation it is in. The composer apologies to his son for what he sees as his failure to his son, making the poem even more personal. Overall the composer uses sad music and talks about his deep connection with what he has lost and uses many references to death to give us the feeling of the immense injustice that has occurring and the tole it has had on the composer personally. This makes it a more personal song and allows us to try and relate to the composers pain.
Earlier on I stated that the conflict shown in banks of marble ‘manifests itself in as many forms as there are people on this earth’. This is another from of the conflict between a higher power shown in banks of marble. Obviously this conflict is different to the conflict shown in banks of marble, it is more personal conflict as a result of another conflict. This song when compared to banks of marble shows that conflict does indeed come in many different forms and that conflict with a higher power is universal in our world today.
John “cougar” Mella camp wrote Rain on the scarecrow out of his own experiences. He lost his farm to the banks and then took up music as his career. If the banks hadn’t foreclosed on his farm he would have lived there and not followed his musical aspirations. He would have been like his father and grandfather before him and “ploughed the land”. This shows that if there was no conflict with the banks, the Mellancamp would not have left his farm, and he wouldn’t have been turned into an international musician. This could be seen as conflict changing Mellancamp for the better but when we look at the song and all the hurt and anguish he went through we have to see that the early conflict must have made him very bitter. This is shown in the way he portrays the banks and his friend Shepmann. His conflict with the bank has also changed his son’s life, as there will be no farm for him to be raised on anymore. Obviously farm life would have shaped his son differently to whatever life he was forced to lead as a result of his father’s conflict with the bank.
“Conflict is universal and comes in many forms, the conflicts we face and the way in which we deal with them shape our being”.
Reviewing these five texts has made me understand conflict as a three dimensional word with many connotations. In completing the area of study (conflict) the theme behind conflict in all its different aspects can be summed up in one word – change. Perhaps a better dictionary definition of the word conflict would be
CONFLICT – a struggle between opposing forces resulting in a change of initial circumstances.
Conflict is one of or the most universal them in our world. It is the driving force behind change, and it is one of Gods few perpetual machines.
” You can get a lot more done with a kind word and a gun, then with a kind word alone” Al Capone