However, the actual poet is a WWII veteran (“Randall Jarrell”). In the first two lines, he compares himself to a soldier of the Air Force. In the first line, “From my mother’s sleep I fell into the State,” the…
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2. Contrast the speaker’s actual identity with the one he creates for himself in lines 1–2. What elements of his actual situation do you think lead him to characterize himself as he does in these lines?
The poet, Randall Jarrell, actually served in the Army Air Corps in the Second World War (“Randall Jarrell”). He actually finished university with a bachelor’s and master’s degree and he was able to publish his book of poems before he joined the Army Air Corps. However, the character he portrays himself as in the poem is that of a person who has never done anything in his life except become a soldier and serve the State all his life until his death. Perhaps, the poet makes such a comparison in order to show the reader that despite his being a poet, during the Second World War, what mattered to him was survival as a soldier and that perhaps what consumed him was the idea of his own death and nothing else. Thus, he forgot about everything else and just focused on being a soldier.
It is Randall Jarrell’s “The Death of the Ball Turret Gunner” that has a greater impact on me because of the cleverness of the poet in expressing the same dishonor and disgrace in war in such an astounding brevity. The futility of war is expressed in the whole poem especially in the end when the dead soldier was just “washed…out of the turret with a hose” and with even just he alone to speak about it. This is clearly the unjust reward of devoting his whole lifetime to the
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