Randall Jarrell?S ?The Death Of The Bull Turret Gunner? Essay, Research Paper
Interpretations of the Turret
Poetry in my opinion is a writer describing, life experience, feelings, things he has seen and perhaps things he would like to see or experience. In Randall Jarrell’s poem “The Death of the Bull Turret Gunner,” there are many ways this poem maybe interpreted. I really did not understand the poem until I read it a few times. This is what I believe the writer is saying:
The author begins the poem with the phrase “From my mother’s sleep I fell into the State”(1). This I believe refers to the reflection of the gunner’s likeliness to his mother’s womb, being crowded in the ball of the plane. The “State” refers to the pilot being drafted into the military. The government drafted most men during this time period and in this poem I think that the speaker was drafted. Like most men, he probably felt it was his duty and honor to serve his country. The author in reference to the second line “And I hunched in its belly till my wet fur froze” (2) might refer to fur around the neck of the pilot to keep him warm from the freezing winds of the sky when hunched down in the ball of the plane. When the author writes “Six miles from earth” (3), I imagine the pilot dropping the plane down from the sky very quickly to hit his target below. I can see the speaker hanging from his little ball not bound by the aspirations that others seek in life, which would be what he is referring to when he says, “loosed from its dream of life” (3). Another thought or interpretation from this line might be that the speaker feels he is not responsible for the lives he is about to destroy on the ground. The following line the
speaker writes, “I woke to black flak and the nightmare fighters” (4). I imagine he was talking about when he woke in death he was joined by others who had died a similar death or he woke from the sleep in the “State”. Which, in either case, can be a nightmare for anybody in this type of situation. Finally the author ends the poem with “When I died they washed me out of the turret with a hose” (5). I think that he greatly resents the fact that his remains were hosed out of the turret as if he was not human. He must have felt that after all he has given his country, surely he deserved better treatment than that at his death.
The attitude projected about war in this poem expresses that often during war there truly are no winners or losers. Maybe this poem was intended to bring feelings of compassion toward these gunners, instead of glory.