Reflections on the Death of the Ball Turret Gunner Essay

856 Words Nov 14th, 2010 4 Pages
A Reflection on “The Death of the Ball Turret Gunner” Rebeca Espirito Santo

The Death of the Ball Turret Gunner “From my mother’s sleep I fell into the State And I hunched in its belly till my wet fur froze Six miles from the earth, loosed from its dream of life I woke to black flack and the nightmare fighters When I died they washed me out of the turret with a hose.” Randall Jarrell

“The Death of the Ball Turret Gunner”, by Randall Jarrell, is a surprisingly simple and brief poem; nevertheless it is extensive in content. Due to carefully chosen words, with
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Even if he was spared another gunner’s bullet at the end of the mission, he knew he was still not safe. In the case of a forced landing, he knew he would be sacrificed. On the third line - “Six miles from the earth, loosed from its dream of life” - one can observe his acknowledgment of this surreal reality. This leads the character to the understanding of not only his physical distance from earth, but also from earthly life and the odds against him going back to that life. He was already preparing himself for the worst and suppressing his hopes of survival. Through the distress of a single man, Jarrell is able to depict the fears of a lonely soldier in an extremely vulnerable position, and invites us into the heinous reality of war which forces us to question our impressions of soldiers having no fear yet not questioning their bravery. War can produce gruesome situations that can cause even the bravest men to face their fears, but it is how they deal with this fear that is the important part. Ball turret gunners were courageous warriors. They were fully aware of how susceptible to death they were, nevertheless, they would continue to fight time after time. WWII was a dreadful episode in human history that killed millions of people, and its bloodshed is described by the UN Charter as a scourge that “has brought untold sorrow to mankind”. Jarrell had served in the military himself, thus he knew - at least to some extent -
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