War in the Caucasian Chalk Circle – Sample KCSE Essay

Sample by Elijah Ntongai

“During political strife, it is the common man who suffers most.” Basing your argument on Bertolt Brecht’s play The Caucasian Chalk Circle justify the truth of this statement.

 In the event of political strife it is usually common citizens, not the ruling class, who bare the full brunt of the violence and its after effects. The ruling class is often insulated by their power and wealth from the effects of war. In the play, The Caucasian Chalk Circle, Brecht illustrates how commoners suffer displacement, loss of life, crippling injuries, and inflation during political crises.

First war often leads to the displacement of people and the loss of livelihoods. As depicted in the prologue, the old man on the right laments their ruined dairy farm. This is after they were forced to vacate because of the approaching Hitler’s Armies. The peasant’s livelihood was destroyed. Grusha’s case is a close parallel. After execution of Governor Abashwili, Grusha is forced to flee to the Northern mountains where she suffers because she no longer has an income.

Soldiers, many of who are poor people forcefully drafted, die in wars. This is apparent from one the petitioners in Abashwili’s court during the Easter celebrations. Having already lost a son in the war, a parent petitions the Governor for the discharge of their remaining son. Sadly, the Governor ignores all the petitioners. The peril of being a soldier is highlighted when Grusha advises Simon not to escort Natella because of the high risk entailed. It is to avoid such dangers that Jussup fakes a terminal illness so that he is not recruited and sent to fight in Persia.

Though soldiers are ready to sacrifice their lives in war, those who suffer crippling injuries are reduced to beggars after the war. This is evident during the Easter celebration; a beggar cries for help from the governor because he lost his leg during the Persian war. Also, when the guests report that the soldiers are back, they claim that many are trading Persian saddles for crutches. It is sad that after all the sacrifice, soldiers are neglected by the ruling class who only seek to profiteer from the war even at the expense of soldiers’ lives. For instance, Azdak observes that the Princes failed to deliver food and horses after receiving payment.

Lastly, political crises often lead to inflation of prices and shortage of commodities which hits the common man hard. When Grusha decides to buy milk for the child, she is surprised that a little pitcher of milk is worth a weeks pay. Apparently, the soldiers had taken goats from the peasants causing a shortage of milk. Grusha expected to part with half a piaster for the milk, but it turns out to be two piasters. When people are complaining of the high costs of living and taxation, Georgi Abashwili is preparing to build an east wing for his palace. He is oblivious of his citizens’ suffering even though he lives on their taxes.

In the Caucasian Chalk Circle, Brecht has shown that in a political turmoil, it is the commoners who suffer from the consequences of poor decisions by their leaders. Even though they do not stand to gain anything from a war, the poor lose their livelihoods, family and, sometimes, their lives.



Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *