Regarding the Pain of Others - Chapter 1 Summary & Analysis

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In Regarding the Pain of Others, Susan Sontag examines the manner in which war is perceived, taking into account such factors as sex, culture and status. She contends that war imagery is open to both interpretation and manipulation. Sontag rejects the notion that war imagery will necessarily compel a repudiation of war, instead arguing that war is itself perennial.

Sontag begins her analysis by looking at how perceptions of war differ between sexes. She agrees with Virginia Woolf's assessment that warring is largely a male occupation. Where Sontag disagrees, however, is on Woolf's assumption of consensus with regard to how photographs are assigned meaning. Just because two people can profess horror and disgust at seeing the same brutal images, Sontag asserts, does not suggest a shared perspective.

The horror of seeing such an image, explains Sontag, can be manifested in different forms. The experience differs...

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