The Death of a Ball Turret Gunner

994 Words4 Pages
The Death of a Ball Turret Gunner by Randal Jarrell The fear and dread of the thought of a Second World War kept millions awake at night during the late 1930s through mid-1940s. The newfound power for Adolf Hitler brought this nightmare of a war into a reality in 1941. Randal Jarrell’s poem, The Death of a Ball Turret Gunner, slightly touches base with what the reality of this chaos inflicted. Jarrell’s work portrays the life of an Air Force bomber pilot’s nightmare becoming a reality of being gunned down, and killed. With his wisely chosen words and vivid detailed imagery, Jarrell succeeds remarkably at providing his readers with the firsthand experience of what may have been going through a pilot’s mind during a mission. With his vivid detailed images and descriptions of the turret gunner’s feelings toward the situation, Jarrell was courteous enough to leave space for the reader’s imagination and interpretation to take flight. Beginning the poem with the line, “From my mother’s sleep I fell into the State,” Jarrell expresses the closeness the speaker has with his mother. The mention of the gunner’s mother is a metaphor to the mother’s womb, comparing it to the actual space of a ball turret: a tiny sphere mounted below an American B-17 or B-24 bombers, which was capable of rotating 360°. In this time period, many inexperienced young men would be forced into the war, being separated from the one person that means everything to a boy at such a young age, his mother. This tight space would bring the pilot a sense of familiarity with his mother once again. Surrounding the gunner with the feelings of extreme hopelessness and having no other choice but to succumb to what he believed would have made his mother proud. By using, “I fell” Jarrell is describing that the gunner has fallen into a, “state” of grievance because of the sudden familiarity to such a sensitive

More about The Death of a Ball Turret Gunner

Open Document