When I originally read “The Death of the Ball Turret Gunner,” I interpreted the narrator to be an animal. Yes, I did realize that a ball turret gunner would probably be a really messed-up creature if it actually did exist and later learned that the name refers to a type of airplane. However, it interested me that the poem seemed to impact me differently if I interpreted it to be narrated by an animal (something that seemed more vulnerable) instead by a human, a more common point of view. I was reminded of conversations from AP Composition about The Things They Carried, a book about the Vietnam War with several scenes in which animals found themselves in unfortunate violent situations (a puppy strapped to a mine, a baby water buffalo attacked by a soldier). The indignation expressed by the class after reading these passages was understandable; I won’t deny that the acts were shocking. Still, it was interesting that these incidents seemed to demand more of the class’s attention than the sufferings of the people who were involved.
Stories of human casualties far outnumber those of animals killed in war—are we simply taken by surprise when they pop up and react accordingly? Maybe the animals' innocence is what affects us—they are harmed by something that they play no part in, that they do not understand. Of course, some people in Vietnam did not become involved by choice and many people in war (at least in that war) do/did not completely understand it. It seems that we should then logically be just as concered about those people as the occasional animals encountered in the stories.
Ending of Caucasia
9 years ago