Goodnight Saigon is a song written by an American musician, Billy Joel. The song was written sometime around 1982 in response to the harsh treatment of the Vietnam War veterans. Joel tried to paint a picture of what it is like to go through the war in this song. The main theme of the song, the struggles of men in war, is depicted through simile, antithesis In this song, simile is used to compare the men drafted into war to other things with word such as “as” or “than”.
To show the struggle of the men when they came to war, Joel mentioned that they “came in spastic like tameless horses” (5). Tamless horses’ is something that is wild and could not be controlled easily; therefore, he tried to imply that the men were unwilling and reluctant to go to war with this simile. A lot of the men opposed the war, which caused some of them to escape to another country, and being drafted into the war mainly relied on luck.
Some of these men were forced to leave their family, friends and job back home and some of them felt that it was wrong to be a part of the Vietnam War but Once they arrived at the battlefield, their next struggle will be about facing their opponents.
To them, their opponent was deemed to be “as sharp as knives” (31) and they struggled a lot to fight them. They struggled a lot with the unfamiliar environment and climate, and they obviously could not fight off the opponent who had been prepared for the arrival of these soldiers.
Just like they barley had any experiences in their adult life, they lack skills in fighting the war and it left them feeling scared and confused most of the time.
Some might think that war is a common event with the problems in today’s society. They hear about it everywhere – movies, news, parliamentary debate. But it has never occurred to them how a war actually affects or changes a person. It was said that a person returning from war will never be the same person as he left. In this song, Joel used antithesis to contribute some contrast regarding the character of the men before and after they went to war. For example, the first two lines introducing the: