The Death of the Ball Turret Gunner by Randal Jarrell

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In the first line of the “The Death of the Ball Turret Gunner” Jarrell states, “When I died they washed me out of the turret with a hose”(5). Jarrell does not elaborate; he makes it very clear that war is gruesome. However, the literary techniques used in the other four lines of “Death of the Ball Turret Gunner” give this theme even deeper meaning and make his point so effective. Jarrell criticizes the government for its insensitivity toward the fate if its solders. Jarrell does mention how scared the gunner is, or call out the government for the brutalities and terrors the gunner has witnessed and experienced; he simply states the events that occurred, allowing the reader to make these conclusions for himself. Jarrell uses imagery to convey the gruesome horrors of combat, perplexity to simultaneously establish the gunner’s emotional condition, and finally tone to portray the government’s perspective of soldiers that die.
The imagery Jarrell uses not only conveys the terrifying situation the ball turret gunner is in, it also exhibits the difference between the gunner’s previous experiences and his current situation. The first line indicates the ball turret gunner safe. He mentions his “mother’s sleep” (1), meaning the sleep during which he is in her womb. This gives the reader the impression that he came from a protected, warm, and comfortable environment. This environment contradicts with his present situation being, “hunched in its belly till my wet fur froze” (2). The
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