The Death of a Turret Ball Gunner and Facing It: A Comparison

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  • Topic: Feeling, Vietnam Veterans Memorial, Death
  • Pages : 2 (431 words )
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  • Published : December 12, 2011
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War provokes many feelings in those that have experienced it and it provokes each of those men differently. Such as in the poems, “The Death of a Turret Ball Gunner” by Randall Jarrell and “Facing It” by Yousef Komunyakaa. These two poems, both similar in theme, have substantial differences. In “Facing It” the feelings of the author are somber and uneasy, while in “The Death of a Turret Ball Gunner” the author seems almost apathetic. In Komunyakaa’s poem, the author is now a survivor, while in Jarrell’s the soldier is deceased.

In the poem “Facing It” the author, when speaking of war, is referring to others, while in Jarrell’s poem he is speaking of himself. This factor gives Jarrell’s poem a more personal feeling. In “Facing It” you are inside the author’s head almost entirely through his narration. However, in “The Death of a Turret Ball Gunner” he is speaking of himself in past tense. This allows the readers to take a step back and create their own inferences.

In “The Death of a Turret Ball Gunner” the author keeps his words and entire poem very brief. In contrast, “Facing It” is somewhat lengthy. In this case it seems to allow Komunyakaa to fully explain his experiences as well as his feeling while visiting the Vietnam Veterans Memorial. In Jarrell’s poem the reader is forced to imagine how he must feel or exactly how the experience must have been.

“Facing it” shows the problems Komunyakaa has dealing with his experiences in war. In lines 29-31, he states, “In the black mirror a woman’s trying to erase names: No, she’s brushing a boy’s hair (pg. 947.) It seems he cannot even watch someone perform such a meaningless action without jumping to the wrong conclusions. While in Jarrell’s poem it is quite the opposite in that it seems as though he could care less about what has happened to him. For example when he states in line 5, “When I died they washed me out of the turret with a hose (pg. 821.) He is implying that the military was both callous and...