"I WILL FIGHT NO MORE" - A SURRENDER SPEECH & ANALYSIS
BY COREN FROZENZEPHYR


Chief Mahon, leader of the Néz Pérce gorbas, delivered the following surrender speech in 1947 b.S. to Lord Déárán, Principal Imperial Appraiser to Eastern Zhun, when his tribe was caught between two imperial legions. The 1947 letter, as the speech later began to be called, is highly reminiscent of the Zhunite Council's brutal treatment of the "blue beasts".


"I WILL FIGHT NO MORE"

ell General Garvaos I know his heart. What he told me before, I have buried in my roots. We are tired of fighting. The clan heads are killed. Sharp Tongue is dead. Hooltohoté is dead. The shamans are dead. It is young men who say yes or no. He who led the young is dead. He who led the storm is dead. We have no wind. The will of the ancestors is lost.

The caverns are sealed by blue burning light. The woods don’t let us pass. Shadows walk among the trees. The rock-souls snatch at our feet. The mud eats our babies. The waters have turned sour green. It is cold and we have no pelts. The little children are freezing to death. My people, some of them, have run to the hills and have no pelts, no food: no one where they are – perhaps freezing to death. I want to have time to look for my children and see how many I can find. Maybe I shall find them among the dead.

Hear me, my chiefs. I am tired, the roots are sick. From where the sun now stands I will fight no more forever.

 

ANALYSIS OF THE 1947 SURRENDER SPEECH
Analysis of Rhetorical Strategies Chief Mahon used to to convey his attitude toward his situation.

The phraseology, sentence structure and stirring images of the 1947 (b.S.) surrender speech shed light not only upon Chief Mahon’s melancholy state of mind but also illustrated the relentless misery of his people. The letter’s rhetorical strategy generates a deeply emotional word portrait of a tribe torn down by ceaseless skirmishes and shattered promises.

The everyday vocabulary and simple diction of the letter effectively conveys Chief Mahon’s sincere heartache at having to surrender the lands and values of his ancestors in the faint wisp of a chance to halt the suffering of the Nez Pérce gorbas. By immediately asking his intended listener/hearer to “tell General Garvaos I know his heart”, rather than crafting an elevated exposition of ornate wording, he subtly points out that this is not a time for elaborate bureaucracy; his people “have run away to the hills… [and are] possibly freezing to death.” The Chief’s word choice instills a sense of urgency for immediate action, while also portraying his weariness at being forced to watch his tribe disintegrate and his tribesmen fall before him.

The employment of simple short sentences sets out an honest, straightforward tone and lend Chief Mahon’s words a pure and proud elegance which allows powerful emotion to filter through. A sharp contrast to the style of the Symbolist movement (whose representatives believed true meaning could only be transmitted via abstract symbols and aimed for obscure and elevated diction), the words of Chief Mahon stand bare and dignified: the inherent direness of his situation needs no further embellishment to permeate into the hearts of his readers; the truth alone is salient enough. In a sense, the simple sentences allow the readers to concentrate on the sentiment and human suffering behind the words rather than lose them in a maze of elevated language.

Lastly, the grim, almost cold presentation of the tragic images of “little children […] freezing to death”, babes being swallowed by the mud slides, streams turning “sour green” with poison, and Chief Mahon’s search for his missing children to “see how many [he] can find” is an intense appeal to emotion in itself. The mere acknowledgement of the possibility of finding his loved ones amidst the ice-covered mounds of dead screams Chief Mahon’s despondency and fatigue. His heart is in fact “sick and sad” for a people destroyed by long conflicts and broken pledges. These heartfelt, yet plainly communicated details express his great sorrow and reinforce his determination to cease fighting at once to try to help the survivors.

The use of everyday diction, simple sentences and wrenchingly-honest details bequeath this centuries-old letter its raw emotional force. We are made to stand with Chief Mahon, beaten & betrayed “where the sun stands”, only to “fight no more forever”…

 

Soeech and Analysis by Coren FrozenZephyr View Profile