by Dunya Mikhail
We've identified these texts as great options for text pairings based on similar themes, literary devices, topic, or writing style. Supplement your lesson with one or more of these options and challenge students to compare and contrast the texts. To assign a paired text, click on the text to go to its page and click the "Assign Text" button there.
The War Prayer
- Mark Twain
In Mark Twain's "The War Prayer," a stranger visits a congregation praying for victory in war. In front of the entire congregation, this stranger outlines the cost on human life that this victory would entail. "The War Prayer" is Twain's scathing indictment on war and blind patriotism.Pair “The War Prayer” with “The War Works Hard” and ask students to compare the literary approaches to and themes of both texts.
A Satirical Elegy on the Death of a Late Famous General
- Jonathan Swift
In this poem, Anglo-Irish essayist, writer, and political commentator Jonathan Swift uses satire to criticize John Churchill, the 1st Duke of Marlborough, an English soldier and statesman whom Swift stated as having “no one good quality in the world besides that of a general.”Pair “A Satirical Elegy on the Death of a Late Famous General” with “The War Works Hard” and ask students to compare how both authors use satire to send a message about political leaders and their actions.
Introduction to the Vietnam War
“Introduction to the Vietnam War” is a summary of the United States’ involvement in the war, the decline in public support for the war, and the impact of the war on the Vietnamese people.Pair “The War Works Hard” with “Introduction to the Vietnam War” and ask students to compare the themes of the two pieces. Mikhail’s satirical poem remarks on the impressive diligence of war and its effects, from “provid[ing] food for flies” to “invigorat[ing] the coffin makers.” How does Mikhail’s imagery and tone impact our reading of this text?
Anthem for Doomed Youth
- Wilfred Owen
In Wilfred Owen’s illustrious poem “Anthem for Doomed Youth,” a speaker grieves the needless and undignified loss of human life he observed during the First World War.Pair “Anthem for Doomed Youth” with “The War Works Hard” and ask students to consider how the latter poem, written by a poet who was born and raised in Iraq, expresses an opinion about the question of war. What literary techniques does Mikhail use to advance her perspective? Are they comparable to those employed by Owen? How does war impact soldiers and civilians alike?
Dulce et Decorum Est
- Wilfred Owen
The horrors of chemical warfare during World War I are described in this gripping poem.Pair “Dulce et Decorum Est” and “The War Works Hard” and ask students to compare and contrast the perspectives on war offered in these two poems. Evaluate which one is more effective in driving its message home with the reader.
Bag of Bones
- Dunya Mikhail
“Bag of Bones” is a poem that questions tragedy and death when a mass grave is unearthed.Pair “The War Works Hard” with “Bag of Bones” and ask students to discuss how the author of these two poems uses different points of view and tones to discuss war and death. Are the themes of the two poems different as a result?
Where the World's Refugees Are
- Malaka Gharib
In “Where The World’s Refugees Are,” Malaka Gharib discuss where refugees have sought safety in the world and how they have been received by their host countries.Pair “The War Works Hard” with “Where The World’s Refugees Are” and ask students to discuss how Dunya Mikhail depicts war and conflict. How does Mikhail’s poem help students better understand the experiences of refugees discussed in “Where The World’s Refugees Are”? What do people risk if they remain in their native country during times of great conflict?
Lather and Nothing Else
- Hernando Téllez
In Hernando Téllez’s short story “Lather & Nothing Else,” a barber gives a military leader a shave while contemplating slitting his throat.Pair “The War Works Hard” with “Lather & Nothing Else” and ask students to discuss the consequences of war and violence. What “hard work” is the war doing in “Lather & Nothing Else”? Why doesn’t the barber contribute to the rebels’ efforts by killing Captain Torres? How would this further feed the war, as described in the poem?
The Decision to Drop the Bomb
In the informational text “The Decision to Drop the Bomb,” USHistory.org discusses Harry Truman’s decision to use nuclear weapons against Japan during World War II.Pair “The War Works Hard” with “The Decision to Drop the Bomb” and ask students to discuss the consequences of the War. In “The Decisions Drop the Bomb” the author discusses Harry Truman’s motivation to end the war with the bombs. Ask students to discuss the consequences of bringing the war to an abrupt and violent end, as Truman did.
A Prayer for the Living
- Ben Okri
In Ben Okri’s “A Prayer for the Living,” adapted from a longer work, a narrator describes the search for loved ones among the dead.Pair “The War Works Hard” with “A Prayer for the Living” to provide students with a poem about the effects of war. How do both the story and the poem emphasize the death and destruction war causes? In the short story, the narrator describes the soldiers of war as being one of the few living who are truly alive. How does the poem support this? Why do students think this is?
- Fred D'Aguiar
In Fred D’Aguiar’s poem, “Boy Soldier,” a speaker describes a young soldier at war.Pair “The War Works Hard” with “Boy Soldier” and ask students to discuss the effects of war. How does each poem emphasize the death and violence of war? Is the tone in each poem similar or different? Why? What effect does this have on the meaning in each poem? Besides soldiers, who else is affected by wars?