Comparison of Blowing in the wind and Ballad of the Green Beret

Comparison of "Blowing in the wind" and "Ballad of the Green Beret"


1  "Ballad of the Green Beret"/ Glorification of Soldiers/ Death as a Sacrifice

 As illustrated above , Barry Sadler's song is a very patriotic one .It approves of any means the  American  nation would have to take in the fight for American ideals , especially warfare. Its  aim is the glorification of soldiers fighting for democracy , first and foremost in Vietnam. The Vietnam War was a very unpopular war , so this song was written for service members who believed that their fight in Vietnam was right. Sadler wanted to encourage the men of the Green Berets on their ungrateful mission . With his  ballad  he gave them a source of pride. Hence , this song does not convey any criticism of warfare or anything connected to it , whatsoever.

The probably most striking fact is the  attitude  towards death displayed in his song. Because the Green Berets  , according to Sadler , are on a mission , death for this mission is a heroic sacrifice ( .. " he has died so she may live .."). Therefore , the exemplary Green Beret in Sadler's song  wants his son to become a Green Beret  , even if this means dying . Here , a vicious cycle is to be noticed , fueled by fanatic patriotism.

2.  "Blowing in the Wind" : Frustration With Society

 Bob Dylan wrote  " Blowing in the wind " while being  totally frustrated with the American society. As mentioned before he was not very content with several issues in American politics , especially freedom issues. He felt that , even in the U.S .A. , not all people were equally equipped with rights .His intention  was to support the  Civil Rights Movement and to pour salt into the wounds of the American society , to make the general public more aware of current problems.

3.  Fundamental Differences Between the Two Songs

It becomes evident that the two songs differ widely from each other .They stand for different idealistic approaches in the American society in the 1960s. This already shows as early as in the structure of the texts.

In itself striking  is the stylistic means of an enumeration of questions we find in Dylan's " Blowing in the wind ".  By repeatedly using questions , he conveys his doubts that everything is working out in his society. In Ballad of the Green Beret , however , no doubts about the American/Western society are expressed. Thus, not questions but statements prevail ( "fearless men who jump and die, these are men, America's best ").

Sadler obviously holds the view that the American system is superior to all others , otherwise he would not support the fighting and killing for American ideas .He does not question the American society , he  approves of it ("freedom's land")

 Dylan , by asking questions , wants the readers to think about the shortcomings of their society and therefore eventually change it gradually  ("How many years must a mountain exist ") .

The tone of " Ballad of the Green Beret " is cheerful  , encouraging , optimistic and patriotic , (" fighting hand -to-hand " , "make him one of America's best").The tone of Dylan's song  is diametrically opposed . Not a single question asked is answered.. The poet seems to be frustrated that there are no answers to his questions in society . He aims at putting the reader in a contemplating , sad mood .He wants to activate the reader's will to change things , but first of all , he tries to stir them and make them sensitive of problems . Sadler , on the other hand, wants to stabilize the status quo.

Both songs deal with freedom and oppression. It gets very obvious that Dylan and Sadler have different definitions of those terms. " Ballad of the Green Beret " only discusses the problem of people in other countries than the U.S. , who are suffering from dictators and especially from communism. The idea of a Green Beret dying for those oppressed implies that there is no oppression or injustice  whatsoever in the U.S.A..

Dylan's song , on the other hand,  deals with freedom issues in general , but also points a finger at things not working out in the United States of his time ( "before it is washed into the sea .."). He recognizes injustices within the U.S.A. . This criticism is not outspoken and direct, though. By using metaphorical language ( "white dove ", man walking down the street) it is rather hidden.

Sadler , a true Green Beret " means just what he says. He uses clear symbols everyone can easily understand. Dylan's  images are more in-depth and require some time to be properly  understood .

Sadler stresses the idea of a group with one goal  they all want to achieve ( " fighting men" , "men who jump and die" etc.) . He always uses the plural form , none of them is not consistent with the given aims . Dylan , however , mostly talks of people in singular form       ( " must a man walk down ")  , he stresses individualism and thinking for one self  .In the Special Forces , there would not be any room for  individual , critical thinking , only for standing in line with the others.

Most striking of all is  the difference when talking of death . For Sadler , death is a necessity in the fight for a democratic world , whereas Dylan doe s not see any point in fighting at all . He condemns fighting and even dying for ideals . Sadler's opinion of warfare is  also widely differing from Dylan's . Sadler approves of it  ( " men who fight and die ")  , whereas Dylan thinks that " too many have died ".


"Ballad of the Green Beret "only accepts one  view of the situation  in the sixties: the U.S.A. are right with whatever they are doing , even if they are involved in wars , even if their men have to die. Sadler thinks all this is necessary to guarantee freedom to the American nation.

Dylan has rather got a different opinion .

He holds the view that war -no matter what it is fought for - is immoral and evil. Dylan desperately tries to wake up  people and the world to realize that there is no sense in killing and dying . He wants  them to realize that there are still people in the U.S. ( women , ethnic minorities e.g. blacks) who cannot enjoy all freedoms the Green Berets claim  fighting for.

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