The Fire and Fury We Forget

Niels Turley

The Fire and Fury We Forget

On August 8, 2017, President Donald Trump warned North Korea that they “best not
make any more threats to the United States. They will be met with fire and fury like the world
has never seen” (Wagner). This came as a response to the U.S. intelligence report that
Pyongyang had successfully created a miniaturized nuclear weapon that can be attached to
missiles, a big step in North Korea’s nuclear weapons development. President Trump’s
comments garnered both support and rejection; many applauded President Trump’s bold and
assertive response while others criticized President Trump’s lack of diplomacy. Ted Gup of The
Washington Post wrote an editorial responding to President Trump’s comments—but, rather than
slipping into partisan ranting, Gup poignantly confronts the devastation that can be caused by
“fire and fury” if one is not extremely cautious. Using powerful emotional appeals, effective
comparisons, and a politically controlled approach, Gup creates a rhetorical masterpiece to
remind his audience that nuclear powers must never be used as threats.
Gup’s uses beautifully tragic pathos throughout his article to show the devastation that
can be caused by nuclear weapons.

Gup begins his article with the deeply emotional story of
Shima Sonoda, a survivor of the A-bomb dropped on Hiroshima. Sonoda, who had just told her
daughter that she couldn’t have a can of tangerines set aside as an emergency ration, witnessed
the detonation of the most powerful bomb in history, incinerating almost everything and
everyone Sonoda knew. Shima Sonoda survived, buried beneath the rubble, but she never saw
her daughter again. Gup writes, “it was a day that she had almost never spoken of, though it was
a constant part of her…Each morning, even decades later, she would begin her day beside her
small Buddhist alter and consecrate a can of tangerines.” Sonoda’s story is pure tragedy—it is
impossible not to feel heartbroken for Sonoda’s loss. Gup’s audience, regardless of how they originally viewed President Trump’s comments, are forced to confront the harsh and destructive power of the “fire and fury” that President Trump callously threatened North Korea with.

Gup further builds this emotional argument by referencing the miserable orphanage “where
children…after the blast…[grew] up, spent their entire adulthoods within its narrow confines and
died, their bomb-induced keloids plainly visible, their deeper scars hidden away.” Gup’s
emotionally stirring descriptions leave their own scars upon readers, who themselves are shocked
and horrified that anyone would be willing to use something that destructive as a threat.
Although never explicitly partisan, Gup’s disapproval of President Trump can be seen in
the effective comparisons he sprinkles throughout his article. For example, Gup mentions that
President Trump speaking of “fire and fury” is “like some cartoon god of war.” This comparison
draws two important ideas together: first, President Trump is silly or childish in his actions, and
second, President Trump holds immense destructive power—a very dangerous combination.

Later in his article, Gup somberly notes that “some things are not to be used for rhetorical ends,
that they must, in the name of humanity, be placed beyond the gamesmanship of bullies.”
President Trump, Gup implies, is treating nuclear powers like a childish “game” between
bickering “bullies”—a horrifying and disturbing thought. Gup’s audience already knows the
devastation that can be caused by atomic bombs from Sonoda’s tragic story; placing that power
in the hands of a potentially volatile and ignorant leader is positively frightening. Gup even
compares physical distance to emotional detachment, mentioning that President Trump “said [his
threats] from the clubhouse of a Bedminster, N.J., golf course, a universe away from
Hiroshima’s skeletal dome.” Gup’s comparisons paint Donald Trump as an insensitive and
inexperienced man with his finger on the trigger of the most dangerous weapon “this world has
ever seen.”

However, it is essential to note that although Gup’s political stance is evident in his
article, it never devolves into political rambling or finger-pointing. There is not a single mention
of President Trump’s other controversial policies, actions, or tweets; Gup simply presents his
opinion on President Trump’s statement and nothing more. This is a great strength to Gup’s
argument: by only focusing on this single statement from President Trump, Gup shifts his
argument away from solely attacking President Trump to a broader criticism of using nuclear
weapons as threats. Many Trump-supporters, who originally would’ve been offended by Gup’s
confrontation, are instead asked to remember that “fire and fury” is destructive for all—
regardless of party affiliation. Both Gup’s purpose and ethos are strengthened by his controlled,
deliberate approach.

Gup’s article, The World Has Already Seen ‘Fire and Fury,’ is much more than a harsh
rebuke. Indeed, this paper does not do the article justice—the emotional poignancy, politically
meticulous approach, and thoughtful comparisons create an inexpressible work of rhetorical art.
However, Gup’s claim is clear: President Trump’s threat to show North Korea “fire and fury the
world has never before seen” was incredibly callous and disparagingly ignorant of the past. We
have seen that “fire and fury” before, and we know the devastation that it causes. Words may not
hold the same physical force that a bomb does, but they can still “[send] shock waves out across
the thinking world.”


Works Cited

Gup, Ted. “The World Has Already Seen ‘Fire and Fury’.” The Washington Post, 11 Aug. 2017,

Wagner, John, and Jenna Johnson. “Trump Vows North Korea Will Be Met with ‘Fire and Fury’
If Threats Continue.” The Washington Post, 8 Aug. 2017,

Look to Your Children, Look to Yourselves

Look to Your Children, Look to Yourselves

Historical Context

Minerva K. Teichert (1888-1976), a well-loved and celebrated painter of Western American tradition, has long been considered the pioneer of LDS art. Born in North Ogden, Utah, but raised the majority of her life in her family’s Pocatello, Idaho homestead, she developed a passion for painting at an early age and continued her art education at the Art Institute of Chicago (Minerva). Among her favorite subjects to paint were murals and portraits of domestic and wild life, of pioneers, of the American Indian and most notably, of key events in The Book of Mormon (Pinborough).

While her contemporaries delved into such genres, movements and styles as social realism, American expressionism and abstract impressionism to expose social and political views of the times, Teichert was content to paint spiritual scenes in her own unique style. According to Gardner, Teichert felt it was her duty to depict the Book of Mormon story in her paintings so that “he who runs may read,” meaning that one should be able to understand the story just by a cursory glance of the artwork (Infanger). Indeed, many of the canvases in her collection at BYU are large murals which tell such stories through earthy hues, contrasts of red and well-balanced portraits, but one stands out in size and presentation from the others: Look to Your Children.


Look to Your Children, at only 39 by 28 inches, is a beautiful oil on canvas which illustrates 3 Nephi 17:11-24. Completed in 1948, Teichert interpreted this passage by showing “female angels descending in a graceful curve to join Christ in ministering to the children” (Welch 146). As Welch informs us, the angels closely resemble Christ (who washes the face of a child in the center of the canvas) in order to convey their unity with the will and purpose of God while the children represent “three generations that will be unified in righteousness and by their faith in Christ” (Welch 146). However, this description only brushes the surface of a far deeper and symbolic message delivered by the artist. Through her inspired use of contrasting color, purposeful lines and differing depictions of characters, Teichert suggests and depicts how a fallen world shrouded in obscurity can regain its connection with its spiritual and heavenly origins, thus overcoming spiritual death.

Color. As previously stated, Christ and the angels are almost identical in their portrayal. All clothed in white robes, with long, straight and blonde hair, the angels blend with each other to the point that it becomes difficult to distinguish the outlines of their individual bodies. They seem to melt together, becoming one shape, suggesting that they are not only united in purpose as Welch states, but united in identity. Through this blending and imagery, the angels become a symbol of the collective force of Heaven, of all that is good and of a higher state. By contrast, the children are represented through dark, earthy hues, are mainly brunette and even fade into the shadowy background. This equates them with the brown, red and dirty earth and reveals that they too are united in identity. Therefore, if the angels represent the spiritual realm, the children must represent mortality, a fallen world devoid of God, light and exaltation.

Teichert further reinforces the differences of these two groups by not blending the intersection points separating the outer edges of the angels with the children. This shows in a literal and figurative way that the forces of Heaven and the fallen do not mix or are incapable of interaction. However, by studying the red halo surrounding the central angel, who is presumably Christ, one sees an exception to this oil and water rule. While Christ retains all qualities and properties of the Heavenly force, He is also touching and fading into the red, dirty hues which belong to the mortals. This red halo visually shows that Christ is capable of interacting with the fallen while maintaining His God-like status, becoming a Mediator between this world and that of Heaven. As confirmed in 2 Nephi 2:8, no flesh can stand in the presence of God without the divine intervention and Atonement of the Holy Messiah, showing that through the “merits” of Christ, Heaven is able to interact with its children.

Lines. In addition to the red halo, lines illustrate the important role of Christ as Mediator. When first looking at the painting, the eye is naturally drawn down the sweep of angels to Christ washing the face of a child. The effect of this downward curve emphasizes that the pathway from Heaven only reaches mortals by the cleansing Atonement of Christ Himself. Yet Teichert shows us that even this is not enough to guarantee connection with Heaven. Notice the child on the lower right portion of the canvas; her gaze is not towards the ministering angels, but is focused on the ground. This signifies that she is not yet ready to receive Christ as her Redeemer, being more interested in worldly matters than spiritual ones. Interestingly enough, only the child to her left, and not an angel, is attempting to get her attention on the heavenly hosts by pointing towards them, showing that the other children are not forced to look up by the angels, but choose to do so on their own accord after hearing the Gospel from fellow mortals. The viewer can then conclude that active faith in Jesus Christ is required on the part of the fallen to access higher spiritual realms.

Likewise, details and patterns on the children’s clothes represent the mortal’s quest to align their faith with Christ. Vertical stripes, much like a church steeple, often represent a connecting point between the world and Heaven, and help the observer to understand that the pathway between the two is attained through mortals looking up, or believing in Christ. But not every child who is wearing stripes is conforming to this rule, such as the one girl already mentioned who is focused on the ground. This is where the symbolism of the vessel of water reveals what leads certain individuals to look up while others are distracted. In John 4:13-14, the Savior explains to a woman at Jacob’s well that “whosoever drinketh of the water that I shall give him shall never thirst; but… shall be in him a well of water springing up into everlasting life.” The living water contained in this basin represents the Gospel of Jesus Christ that is given to the children by Jesus Christ and His angels. By drinking this water, the children can look up and receive the blessings of eternal life, and then are authorized to share this water with their fellow mortals who have not received the Word. The horizontal lines that decorate the basin must symbolize the spreading of the Gospel upon the face of the Earth, which enables individuals who “partake” of it to align themselves vertically with God’s commandments.

Detailed depictions of characters. But how do we know for sure that Teichert wasn’t just painting a Book of Mormon story? Are there any clues that suggest the children truly represent more than just “three generations” of righteous people in the Americas? I believe that through the face of one child, Teichert applies her work to everyone of all generations. Directly between Christ and the vessel of water is a child who differs greatly from the rest. Facing the audience, she shows off dark eyes, a smiling mouth and a button-like nose that are more detailed than any other child or angel pictured. Her hair is stylishly parted to the side, while her sleeves appear puffy and her striped dress flare. This is in contrast with the other children with messy or undefined hair, sleeves that are cut at the shoulder and robes falling straight to the ground. She seems more like a 1940s child than a child from the pages of the Book of Mormon, which might make her either a symbol of modern days, an acquaintance of Teichert or the two. This means the painting can and should apply to nowadays as well as in times of old.

Furthermore, her gazing at the audience seems to show that this painting applies to whoever is viewing the artwork, which means that the intended effect of this painting was to send a broad message about the power of Christ. The child seems to tell us through her smile that we too can experience such a miraculous event, enjoying the light and warmth of Heaven if we “partake” of the living waters and express deep faith in Christ. One could even argue that she, like the child pointing to the angels, is inviting us to look towards Christ to receive the blessings of eternal life and meld with the Heavenly force.


With her simplistic large murals, Teichert intended her art to express and teach to those who “ran by” certain key events of the Book of Mormon. Look to Your Children illustrates a moment when the Resurrected Christ and a host of angels ministered to children who had anticipated His arrival after the three days of darkness that followed His crucifixion. As seen through the various techniques analyzed within this paper, she also communicated that the only way a fallen world can overcome spiritual death is by looking towards Christ and applying His cleansing Atonement while on Earth. And yet Christ is somewhat hidden in the painting, and can only be found upon close inspection on the viewer’s part. Why would the artist hide the very core point of the Book of Mormon story when she wants to teach those who don’t know it her fundamental beliefs?

Perhaps, like a missionary, she wanted to teach others who had differing religious views without offending them. Although Christ is an important spiritual figure of Christian religions, He is not the center nor core of everyone else’s lives. There are many in this world who identify as Buddhists, Jews, Muslims and even atheists who have valid opinions and could possibly come across her artwork. If Christ were to be pictured in a flashy and bold manner, others who didn’t believe in Him would undoubtedly be pushed away from understanding her message, just as Christians may shy away from artwork containing a Buddha. By blending Christ with those who surround Him, all people can appreciate its beauty without feeling that his or her religion is being challenged. The viewer can then discover universal truths that apply to any religion, culture and time period.

The children therefore also represent mankind who has struggled to find its origins and destinies in a muddled and confusing world. We have searched through science, religion and other people our identities, trying to understand how we fit in with the universe. The angels therefore symbolize the forms of enlightenment that we as individuals use to explain the meaning of life. We are also reminded by the distracted child that not everyone shares similar views, and are invited by the girl who stares back at us, to put ourselves in the picture and imagine what the artwork means as a whole to us.

Look to Your Children reminds us that both truth and error is found within every religion, culture, time period and philosophy, and suggests that the key to discovering our personal truths is by first “looking” or searching it out for ourselves.

Personal Application

Throughout the exhibit, I found it hard to emotionally connect with her paintings mainly because it was not in my favorite style. I tend to be very judgmental about pieces of art, and found it very difficult at first to find a painting that spoke to me. Although I could see beautiful usage of symbols in her imagery, and understood all the stories they presented, I rushed through the exhibit, dismissing the majority for my project. It wasn’t until I saw the painting hidden in a corner labeled Look to Your Children that I stopped to appreciate its fine details.

What inspired me the most was the near logarithmic spiral that so many artists have used throughout the ages to express beauty in nature. This swirl of angels resembled Starry Night by Van Gogh, while the mass of children looked a lot like the dark and misty city found below the majestic night sky. I was able to compare and contrast these two works and decided that both signified a certain connection between spiritual and temporal realms. Backing up a few feet, I noticed that the swirl of angels looked just like the white swirl of yin, and the children resembled the black swirl of yang, proving that these two groups were polar opposites. That being said, one of the most important features of yin/yang philosophy is the dots of opposite color found on each side. They show that there is always an element of the opposite within the self. This element was Jesus Christ, who was both the little bit of Heaven in Earth and the little bit of Earth in Heaven that connected the two opposites and enabled a certain harmony within the painting itself.

Like was intended by Teichert herself, I quickly “ran” and “read” each piece, making it through the majority of the museum within five minutes and understanding each picture on a cursory glance. But what was inspiring in studying Look to Your Children was when I realized that Teichert wanted to also include something for those that stopped and scrutinized her artwork. I was one of those people. Her painting made me reflect on my own philosophies and even those of the world. Just as missionaries of various religions describe their gospel as simply as possible for investigators, Teichert illustrated scenes in an easily decipherable way. But just as those who are drawn in and desire to search for a deeper meaning, she included details that could only be seen by careful study and reflection. Teichert was a missionary, and it was then, at the BYU Museum of Art that I understood that she had accomplished all that she wanted to do with her artwork. Like the child who points towards the angels, she successfully got those “runners” like me to stop and admire the curve of angels that nourished me spiritually.

Works Cited

Infanger, Garrick. “Minerva Teichert: But I Will Be Someday.” The Krakens, 30 Jan. 2017. The Krakens, Accessed 20 February 2017.

“Minerva Teichert.” LDSart., 20 Feb. 2017.

Pinborough, Jan Underwood. “Minerva Kohlhepp Teichert: With a Bold Brush.” The Ensign, April 1989, Accessed 25 Feb. 2017.

Welch, John W. and Doris R. Dant. “The Book of Mormon Paintings of Minerva Teichert.” BYU Studies, 19 Aug. 2009. Print.

Image of a Modern Movement: Dr. King’s Letter from Birmingham Jail


Image of a Modern Movement: Dr. King’s Letter from Birmingham Jail


In April 1963, during the height of the Civil Rights movement, esteemed religious leader

and activist Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr penned what has since become a landmark treatise on

racial equality. Written while incarcerated in Alabama following a public demonstration, King’s

Letter from Birmingham Jail is crafted with a single purpose in mind: respond to a recently-

published statement by white religious leaders deploring his anti-segregation efforts. I imagine

that King was driven to write his letter by envisioning the effects this public statement may have

on participators in his movement if not responded to immediately and thoroughly. With social

pressures mounting and their most visible and respected leader in jail, this period may well have

been a very disheartening time for King’s supporters; by utilizing convincing rhetorical

strategies, King effectively negates his opponents’ argument and provides morale to his own

supporters. Therefore, the principal audience for this letter is the group of clergymen who wrote

the public statement denouncing direct action, with both supporters and opponents of direct

action serving as the secondary audience. Interestingly, the rhetorical devices of Dr. King’s

article are not impeded, and are even aided at times, by his presence in a public jail at the time of

writing. King garners sympathy to the cause of the civil rights groups across the nation through

his masterful use of shocking diction, moving imageries, quotation, and comparison.

One of the most effective rhetorical devices employed in Letter from Birmingham Jail is

the use of eloquent and often shocking diction designed to evoke emotional responses from the

reader. Some of the most powerful examples of this device come as Dr. King refutes the

clergymen’s’ call for what they deem “patience”on the part of black citizens. Using detailed

examples, spoken in the second-person so as to inspire his audience to note its personal

relevance, he allows his audience to emotionally experience a sample of the challenges and

dangers that face black citizens under the culture of segregation. When Dr. King writes of

“lynch[ing] your mothers and fathers at will and drown[ing] your sisters and brothers at whim,”

he shows the terrors of racial violence which plague southern communities. This demonstration

of modern horrors is aided by King’s use of jarring diction; terms such as “lynch,” “drown,”

“brutalize,” and “kill” paint an image of violence that is abhorrent to the morals of modern

individuals and communities. Dr. King effectively builds the pathos of his argument by

involving his readers emotionally in the physical dangers faced by members of his personal


Similarly, in the same passage, Dr. King evokes another emotional response in his

audience by creating a strong and detailed pattern of moving imagery. Anxious to communicate

to his audience the injustice of life under segregation, Dr. King illustrates a parent’s interactions

with their children when those children are forced to confront racism or face the disparaging

personal limits imposed by segregation. By using detailed and expressive images involving

children, Dr. King draws on the natural emotional responses of parents and caregivers. His words

inspire sympathy for the children in his images when he writes of “tears welling up in her little

eyes,” and “clouds of inferiority begin[ning] to form in her little mental sky.” (King) The form of

expression utilized in the context of these examples hints to the audience that perhaps they are

scenes which truly transpired between Dr. King and his own children, further increasing the

audience’s emotional connection to both the illustration and Dr. King himself.

In addition to crafting emotional imageries in his article, Dr. King expertly uses a variety

of quotations from both his opponents and supporting religious sources. He does so in order to

effectively state the counter-arguments made by his opponents and respond to them in an

authoritative and definitive manner. A prime example of this device is found as Dr. King

transitions to discussing the difference between just and unjust laws. He writes, “One may well

ask, “How can you advocate breaking some laws and obeying others?” The answer is found in

the fact that there are two types of laws: there are just laws, and there are unjust laws. I would

agree with St. Augustine that “An unjust law is no law at all.”” (King) In this brief passage, the

first quote is taken from the statement by opposing religious leaders to introduce this key

counter-argument, and the second draws on the teachings of respected religious authorities to

establish ethos and eloquently begin to establish a resolution to said argument. King’s abundant

use of quotations in this manner contributes greatly to the strength and clarity of his argument.

Due to his intimate knowledge of the addressed audience, Dr. King is well-positioned to draw on

religious teachings (with which he is well-versed given his own occupation) to develop both his

logos and ethos.

As Dr. King builds his argument using quotations from respected individuals of both

religious and national history, he is inspiring his audience to believe that if these influential

characters were alive today, they would support his claims. This effect is very powerful in

potentially aligning opponents of King’s ideologies with at least some of the core concepts which

he discusses in this text. When the opposing clergymen, in their public statement, denounce Dr.

King as an “extremist,” Dr. King draws on quotations and comparisons to change the audience’s

perception of the term. While incorporating quotations from individuals ranging from religious

figures to founding fathers, Dr. King argues that extremism is a form of progress and of forward-

thinking, an unwillingness to settle for anything less than love and justice. This re-definition of

what it means to be an extremist can be seen when he asks rhetorically, “Was not Jesus an

extremist in love? … Was not Abraham Lincoln an extremist? … Was not Thomas Jefferson an

extremist?” (King) This argument is effective for his audience and proves difficult to refute

because of the reputation of its subjects and their ties to both religion and patriotism.

Comparable to the style in which his use of quotations lends others’ ethos unto his own, it

is also a recurring theme of Letter from Birmingham Jail to draw comparisons between points of

the argument and notable events or situations in history. Dr. King offers several comparisons

between those individuals involved in civil rights demonstrations and ancient religious figures.

Supporters of direct action, who are labeled as participators in civil disobedience by King’s

political opponents, are compared to ancient Jews and Christians. These historical individuals,

according to Dr. King, defied the laws of their time in order to follow a “higher moral law.”

(King) In constructing this effective comparison, Dr. King builds his argument by claiming the

moral high ground for his own movement and ideology. This moral stance surely has a highly

motivating effect on those members of the audience who participate in direct action and

otherwise support desegregation, while perhaps causing some of the opponents of these

initiatives to reconsider their position.

Another highly effective comparison in this letter is that which is drawn connecting

segregation and “Hitler’s Germany”, in which once again the differences between legality and

morality are shown. For nearly all Americans, when any sort of parallel is drawn between an

individual, organization, or idea and Adolf Hitler or Nazi Germany, the principle or object being

compared is immediately regarded as something immoral and worthy of rejection. Dr. King

hopes to draw upon this cultural reflex by equating the institution of segregation with Nazism

while simultaneously connecting those individuals who resist segregation with freedom fighters

who combated the Nazi regime. There are also parallels implied between the victims of racial

attacks and genocide during World War 2 and the victims of racial attacks and segregation at the

present time. Any opponent of Dr. King’s will desire to resist his assertions that illegal direct

action is merited, and yet will be exceedingly reluctant to express as much, as doing so would

put them on the side of Nazi Germany in the comparison drawn. Using such a concrete example

that is still fresh in the nation’s cultural memory, having occurred only a few short decades ago,

puts the opponents of his argument in a difficult position.

With emotionally-driven language and a definitively moral and religious context

throughout, Letter from Birmingham Jail expresses an effective argument in favor of civil rights

movements’ direct action policies. Dr. King shows a comprehensive understanding of his

audience while masterfully applying the rhetorical devices of shocking diction, moving imagery,

quotation, and comparison. Though we as modern readers may not be members of the original

audience, the same breed of challenges which inspired this treatise to be crafted in 1963 are still

debated and continue to be relevant today. One need only refer to recent Supreme Court cases

pertaining to the consideration of race in college admissions, for example, to recognize that racial

injustice is still a point of contention in our society. By revisiting and maintaining in our cultural

conscience the messages taught in Letter from Birmingham Jail, these challenges will continue to

progress towards complete and just resolution. We as a nation will secure racial equality for all

only as we as individuals pursue justice and fairness for our neighbors. As Dr. King emphatically

declared, “Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere.” This historic document aids us

in our nation’s quest for social justice today just as inspiringly as when it was first published

over half a decade ago.

Works Cited

King, Martin Luther, Jr. Letter from Birmingham Jail. The Atlantic Monthly; August

1963; The Negro Is Your Brother; Volume 212, No. 2; pages 78-88.

The Salvation of Water

The Salvation of Water

In The Great Divorce, C.S. Lewis spends a great deal of time describing nature,

especially in Heaven. Many elements of nature are used as symbols throughout the book. For

example, the tree by the waterfall represents life and growth. The apples of the tree parallel the

fruit of the tree Adam and Eve partook from. The apples also signify good and evil, that the two

cannot be intertwined, for example: the ghosts cannot take the heavenly apples back to Hell.

Although the symbolism of nature is prevalent throughout the entire book, one of the most

persuasive and abiding symbols of nature is water. Of the natural symbols given as metaphors in

the novel, water is the only natural element that is a necessity to life. Because water is requisite

in mortality, the life-giving properties of water ring true to readers as an eternal necessity as well.

In The Great Divorce, water symbolizes baptism, progression toward salvation, the heavenly

characteristics essential to fully comprehend salvation, Christ’s importance as the only means to

salvation, and his role as the giver of eternal life. All of these symbols serve as a metaphor of our

journey toward salvation.

The running river is a metaphor for baptism, an essential step to enter God’s kingdom.

When the narrator reaches the river, he describes it as “so clear that I could count the pebbles at

the bottom” (Lewis 33). This water is clean and pure, a physical representation of the purity and

cleanliness we receive by having our sins forgiven at baptism. The clarity of the water comes

because it is flowing swiftly. This allows the dirt and silt on the bottom to be swept away without

polluting the water. The physical action of baptism by immersion parallels the same process as

all sin is removed, no longer claiming possession of pollution to the spirit. The detailed clarity of

the water in Heaven and its parallel to baptism is important because baptism is an essential

ordinance to obtain salvation. This was taught by Jesus Christ during His life when he told

Nicodemus, “Except a man be born of water and of the Spirit, he cannot enter into the kingdom

of God” (John 3:5). The narrator notices the water and recognizes its significance in the eternal

journey toward Heaven.

The river also has solidifying power that makes the narrator better able to endure walking

on the stones along the riverbank, signifying his progression toward salvation. Prior to his

walking in the water, it was painful to walk on the ground in Heaven. However, when he stepped

out of the water, he continued his journey “without much hurt to [his] feet” (Lewis 45). The

same endurance is available through the Holy Spirit. The Savior taught of baptism both by water

and the Spirit, and as part of the baptismal covenant, God promises to allow His Spirit to abide

infinitely. Walking in the water gave the narrator extra endurance he did not have before. Lewis

uses this as an analogy to assert that when we receive the gift of the Holy Ghost, the constancy of

the Spirit makes it easier to endure the difficulties that are inevitable in mortality. As we endure

trials, we naturally grow closer to God and to obtaining His eternal salvation.

Lewis also uses the river as a symbol of continual progression and growth. After baptism,

progression toward salvation continues through endurance to the end. As the narrator steps into

the river, he initially falls flat and gets carried downstream (Lewis 44). However, his reaction to

his fall is noteworthy. He promptly stands and begins walking back up stream toward the

mountains of Heaven (Lewis 44). The narrator experienced pain and physical wounds from his

fall (Lewis 44). Similarly, our wrongdoings can leave our spirits with “some nasty bruises”

(Lewis 44). The narrator’s response to adversity is an analogy about the journey toward

salvation. Lewis argues that eternal life is not a destination we can jump into like a river, but

rather an experience of falling, bruising, repenting, and returning with our feet toward God.

Baptism and endurance are stepping stones in eternal progression: mortal attempt to

ultimately obtain salvation, even though in mortality, at least according to Lewis, we are not able

to fully grasp the concept of salvation. The Great Divorce emphasizes this truth by exposing the

narrator to the river before the waterfall. The river represents our limited mortal capacity for

understanding salvation. It is not until after the river experience that the narrator notices the

massive waterfall, and initially the waterfall is overwhelming and beyond comprehension. The

narrator admits, “On Earth, such a waterfall could not have been perceived at all as a whole; it

was too big” (Lewis 46). The narrator finds its noise almost deafening describing it as loud as

giants “laughing, dancing, singing, [and] roaring” (Lewis 46). Yet, after the initial shock of the

noise and size of the waterfall, the narrator becomes jovial (Lewis 46). Lewis argues that,

although the thought of salvation and eternity seems difficult to understand, there is still a natural

desire to obtain it. The idea of living in the presence of God seems overwhelming, but it also

seems familiar and appealing. Like the river as a precursor to the waterfall, baptism provides a

small taste of salvation on Earth to prepare for the incredible claiming of blessings yet to come.

Lewis also writes about the water in Heaven being undrinkable, not because there is anything

wrong or dangerous about the water, but because the ghosts are not in a physical state to take it

in (Lewis 56). Similarly, during mortality, the expansiveness of eternal life is too big for us to


Even though Christ is rarely explicitly mentioned in The Great Divorce, one comment

made by the narrator identifies the waterfall clearly as Christ. When the waterfall begins

speaking, the narrator turns to look at it and sees, “a bright angel who stood, like one crucified,

against the rocks and poured himself perpetually down” (Lewis 49). One of the most significant

and agonizing crucifixions of history was the crucifixion of Jesus Christ. Though perfect,

without any sin, and able to endure all things, the Savior’s hands and feet were pierced with nails

and he hung in scorn from those around. As a crucial moment in the Savior’s Atonement, the

Messiah dove into the deepest depth of despair and sorrow and anguish. He endured every

individual hardship; even experiencing the “very jaws of hell [gaping] open [its] mouth,” he was

able to overcome, because the Son of Man “hath descended below them all” (D&C 122:8). This

complete condescension of the Lord allows Him to lift us up, because there is nothing he has not

descended below. Lewis’ allusion to Christ’s crucifixion claims that Jesus possesses the

capability to help us ascend to salvation because he is the source of it.

The waterfall also illustrates that Christ is the true source of salvation. The waterfall falls

in one enormous mass and pours into the “frothy and pulsating lake” (Lewis 45). It is the entire

source of water for the lake and likely for the river as well. It is the biggest source of water we

get to see in Heaven, drawing a parallel to the Savior’s sacrifice as the largest on Earth. Once

again, Lewis asserts that Christ’s Atonement is the only way to obtain salvation. His Atonement

implores repentance and thrives on forgiveness, the only way to overcome sin and reach the

presence of God. The enormous waterfall, though, is formed from combined droplets of water

pouring down. During His Atonement, the Savior’s blood also fell—drop by drop, from every

pore. It is the infinite size, both as an infinite number of individual drops and an

incomprehensible whole, that make the waterfall, and the Atonement, so crucial to the attainment

eternal life.

C.S. Lewis’ use of the waterfall also represents Jesus Christ as the giver of eternal life.

Throughout scripture, the Savior is referred to as the living waters. He is frequently referred to

with this description by Old Testament prophets. Speaking with the Samaritan woman at the

well, the Savior refers to himself as the living waters (John 4:10). Many properties of the

waterfall exemplify this same title. The use of a waterfall as a focus instead of a stream or pond

is crucial because the water is always moving, a symbol of life. The waterfall also has a voice;

the narrator hears it speak to one of the other ghosts showing that it is alive (Lewis 49). Not only

is the waterfall alive, but it has the power to bestow life. The rocks underneath the waterfall have

many colors (Lewis 46). They are not dull or gray or dead, but colorful, symbolic of the life

given by the touch of the waterfall. The tree next to the plunging waterfall grows with the spray

of water. The tree is filled with thick, green foliage, and golden apples from every branch

because of the life-giving water it receives from the waterfall. The waterfall claims the right to

the bestowal of eternal life—rocks with rich color and trees that are full of vitality. The power

belongs to the waterfall, because the waterfall is life itself with continuous movement and a

voice. Jesus Christ is Life, too. He was resurrected, obtained life over death. As such, Lewis

argues, it is His power to bestow life and salvation in Heaven. He will bring eternal perfection to

everything within His touch.

Through the use of many elements of water in The Great Divorce, Lewis gathers them as

a metaphor of salvation. The river and waterfall each feel incomplete on their own. The clarity

and solidifying power of the river seem insignificant. The narrator’s swift walking to get back up

the river seems inspirational, but not applicable. The waterfall feels unattainable, the life it gives

the tree seems common, and the colorful rocks are but a simple detail. But together they all

present an analogy of the work required to obtain salvation. Lewis asserts that salvation is a

mutual relationship between individuals and Jesus Christ. Mortals will be intrigued with and

desire salvation, and if they realize it, the immense, life-supporting waterfall will provide the

means of getting there. Mortals realize that baptism is essential; endurance is difficult, but

rewarding; life can last eternally and, like the rocks, can come from something typically seen and

plain and boring. The overarching realization that comes from water in C.S. Lewis’ The Great

Divorce is that salvation is attainable, probable, and exquisite.

McCarthy Takes on the Vietnam War

McCarthy Takes on the Vietnam War


Perhaps the most controversial and incendiary topic of the 1960s (which is saying something, considering this was the decade that birthed the Civil Rights movement, the Space Race, and the assassination of John F. Kennedy), the Vietnam War incited heated words and emotions across an entire spectrum of opinion. On December 2, 1967, Minnesota Senator and presidential candidate Eugene McCarthy presented a bold and powerful speech denouncing the Vietnam War and America’s place in it. Emboldened with the passion of an angry nation, McCarthy contrasts the different versions of America before and after the war, drawing sharp attention to the damaging effects the Vietnam War has had on the country as a whole.  In addition, McCarthy also uses personification and chiasmus to effectively deliver his cry to a nation in turmoil, asserting his anti-war position, and inviting others to heed his call and speak out with him against the war.

Throughout the speech, McCarthy repeatedly remarks on the distinct differences in America before and after we entered the Vietnam War.  He develops a glowing image of America in 1963 to repeatedly compare with the darkness and confusion of America in the current 1967. Near the beginning the speech, McCarthy characterizes the success of John F. Kennedy in setting free the spirit of America in 1963, developing a nostalgic image of pre-war happiness: “John Kennedy set free the spirit of America.  The honest optimism was released…the world looked to the United States with new hope, for here was youth and confidence and an openness to the future.” Kennedy had been assassinated four years previous to McCarthy’s speech, so by hearkening to a time where the tragically killed president still held office automatically evokes a natural sense of longing and nostalgia in McCarthy’s audience.  Following this optimistic characterization of America, McCarthy develops a dark and “joyless” image of America in 1967 – one where a mood of “frustration, anxiety, [and] uncertainty” abound. By developing two drastically different pictures of America, McCarthy highlights the stark and negative contrast that has occurred in America since entering the Vietnam War. Even further, McCarthy establishes that the war has effectively destroyed the hope of America, transforming the previously vibrant hope and joy that abounded to a nation of darkness and fear.  This drastic comparison stirs up McCarthy’s audience to a sense of awareness and worry; inciting both anger and fear in the hearts of those listening towards the destructive effects of the Vietnam War.

In addition to his use of vivid contrast, McCarthy employs personification to make the issues at hand seem more immediate to his audience.  For example, when describing the difference of America in 1963 versus America in the current 1967, McCarthy states: “Here was a country not being held by the dead hand of the past, nor frightened by the violent hand of the future which was grasping at the world.” Here, McCarthy personifies both the past and the future by describing them as a hand, albeit with different characteristics for each.  The past he personifies here as a “dead hand,” establishing the point that the past is deceased and gone, and cannot be resurrected anew. In 1963, America understood this concept, and refused to be held by the past, moving ever onward, choosing instead to progress forward in brightness and hope. However, contrary to the hand of the past, the hand of the future is seen as powerful and energetic; here McCarthy uses the words “violent” and “grasping” to illustrate that the future was a force that would ensnare us if we were not careful.  In 1963, McCarthy states that America was not “frightened” by the future, and by so doing, implies that America in 1967 has given in to this fear, and is now living in the consequences of that fear. Additionally, the effect of giving human characteristics to the inanimate ideas of the past and future makes these ideas seem more immediate, personal, and even dangerous. McCarthy effectively suggests that just as humans are terrorizing and killing other humans out in the Vietnam War, so, by extension, the future of 1963 is terrorizing and killing America in 1967.

Finally, McCarthy uses a chiasmic structure in forming his speech.  This is seen primarily in his anecdote of the “clear sound of the horn and the…beat of a steady and certain drum” that America marched to under the presidency of John F. Kennedy, placed at the very beginning of the speech.  McCarthy then proceeds to give his argument against the war, progressing from the steady beat of the drum to the loss of it entirely (as seen in the apex of his argument, which specifically delineates the war in its military engagement).  The second half of the speech then reverses this argument, progressing from the specifics of the war to his pleas that we return again to “the trumpet and the steady drum.” As an additional example of this chiasmic structure, McCarthy places several anaphora at both the beginning and ending of his speech: the anaphora at the beginning of the speech replaces the positive aspects of 1963 with the negative aspects of 1967, e.g. “In place of the enthusiasm of the Alliance for Progress, we have distrust and disappointment,” etc.  The anaphora at the end of the speech essentially reverses this idea, offering in place of the negative elements of 1967, positive elements that they can be replaced with now and in the future: “In place of disunity, let us have dedication of purpose. In place of near despair let us have hope,” etc. By punctuating the chiasmic structure with anaphora, the parallels between the beginning and ending of the speech are made even clearer. The overall effect of forming a chiasmic structure creates hope for the future while placing emphasis on the present time.  Because the elements of the chiasmic structure meet in the middle of the argument, focus is given directly to the specifics of the war, suggesting that this is the most immediate concern of the country at the present moment. On the fringes of the war, the past and future branch out of his argument. Both more hopeful than the present day, this structural element allows for hope to follow the dark and despairing topic of the Vietnam War. The hope of the future shines brightly ahead, if only America will rid herself of the darkness of the war and forge ahead peacefully into the future.

With a passionate argument strengthened by powerful imagery and contrast, personification, and chiasmus, McCarthy effectively delivered his words to a nation torn within the throes of a controversial war.  Clearly an anti-war advocate, presidential candidate and senator Eugene McCarthy made clear his case to the Democratic Party and the broader audience of the United States the effects the war has had on America’s present, and the destructive potential it could have on America’s future.  With words of warning, and yet words of hope, McCarthy closes his argument by offering America a bargain, the price of which would be her withdrawal from the war: “In place of doubt – trust… In place of disunity, let us have dedication of purpose. In place of near despair, let us have hope.”


Works Cited

McCarthy, Eugene. “Eugene McCarthy “Denouncing the Vietnam War” Transcript.” Eugene McCarthy “Denouncing the Vietnam War” Transcript. Speeches-USA, n.d. Web. 14 Mar. 2017.