Henry Reed

’s Naming Of Parts Essay, Research Paper



Naming of Parts

Henry Reed s poem Naming of Parts is the definition of ambiguity. His work must be looked overcarefully and interpreted every which way before the reader can start to see all of the different possible meanings this poem may contain. The speakers are not the only ones who are asked to name parts. Reed leaves it up to us to uncover the names or the intended meanings to the words he carefully chose to depict his poem. There are two voices in this poem, one being the straight forward instructions of a drill sergeant; and the other the inner voice of a young, intelligent, private in boot camp. The young man is processing the information he is being told and then discovering the irony behind the task. Reed s poem depicts a young man coming to the realization of the never ending cycle that is war. They are the new crop of young men learning how to be soldiers, and in a sense, being sent to their death. The young man marvels at how the other men go about their duty without hesitation and stand there silent listening to their Drill Sergeant plainly teaching them how to be able to kill other people rapidly. Reed cleverly ameliorates his poem by using poetic devices such as, imagery, symbols, verbal irony, repetition, and speaker.

The poem begins with the drill instructor telling the young men what they have completed and what is to be completed in that day and the next. Preceding learning the parts of the gun, the soldiers cleaned their weapons, and after that they will be firing the gun. The instructor teaches the young men the names to the parts of the gun that they hold before them. From the safety lock to firing pin. All of the men stand silently listening to the sergeant. In the midst of the drill instructors lesson we are privy to the inner thoughts of one of these young soldiers. The young man is not like the others; internally he is questioning his purpose in the armed forces. He plays on the sergeant s words and twists them until he realizes his ultimate fate. At the end of every stanza the young man thinks about what has just been said to him and we read his unique comparisons.

The soldier refers to himself and his peers as young plants in a garden just beginning to bud and blossom as they get closer to becoming real soldiers. Japonica is referred with a simile in lines 4-5. It glistens like coral in all of the neighboring gardens. Japonica is a plant with scarlet flowers and yellowish-green fruit. The reference to the glistening of coral jumpstarts our imagination. We immediately think of the glistening blue waters of the ocean and the coral just beneath the surface. New things usually are bright and shine just like these young soldiers in their uniforms and polished belt buckles and shoes. In the next stanza they learn the names of the parts to their guns. They learn about a pilling swivel and the sling swivels, which were used to hold the guns around the soldiers shoulders. Which they have not got. as the poem goes. The branches (arms) hold in their gardens their silent, eloquent gesture. This was the first gun equipt with a strap that was used not to aim the gun, it was simply used to transport the weapon. So I find it ironic that the one piece of the gun without the purpose of killing is not provided to the soldiers.Still no one has made a comment, but the intelligent soldier is starting to play on the words of the sergeant and is mocking his diction. He repeats the words in his mind, Which in our case we have not got. Than a reference is made to the safety-catch and the relative ease it takes a person to flick it on and off and how easy it is to fire a weapon and kill someone. The soldier again refers to how fragile and motionless the blossoms are. He is saying, the young, would be soldiers, are the fragile blossoms listening to their instructor with out question or defiance. In the fourth stanza they learn how to load the bullets and rapidly fire the gun. This action is called easing the spring. He plays on words or letters here because the sergeant spells it Easing the spring. However, when the young soldiers uses the very same word it is spelled Spring to infer the season and not the part of the gun. He refers to how rapidly backward and forward a gun can be fired. The early bees assaulting and fumbling the flowers. They call it easing the Spring. The early bees and flowers are a reference to the young enemy forces fighting against his soldiers and the awkwardness of the inexperienced men in combat resembles confusion and uncoordination. Finally, in the last stanza he reiterates what he has heard in this short period of time about his gun. He mentions the almond blossom silent in the gardens and the bees going backwards and forwards. The blossoms are silent now representing death. The bees are still going backwards and forwards. He is pointing out the futility of war and the never ending cycle of death that will ensue. If one group of men are trained to fight and die, the next group of shrubs have more time to be groomed into flowers.

I can see this poem having many different meanings to many different people. However, in my mind I think enough evidence is evident to suggest that the young soldier did not want to be in this war and felt that war overall was pointless. His word choice suggests to me that this young man is very well educated, thus being more likely to figuratively step outside his present situation and observe the futility of the war.


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