The Balances and Distinctions of Two War Poems
The subjects of “The Man He Killed” by Thomas Hardy and “The death of a Ball Turret Gunner” by Randall Jarrell have to do with soldiers in war situations. These poems reflect several factors that point to duty, commitment, and simplicity. Both poems suggest the responsibility of participation of war but not necessarily the obligation to join and the separate tones and imagery that imply the dark side of war and the decisions that need to be made. In “The Man He Killed” it is obvious that the narrator willingly enlisted: “He thought he’d ‘list, perhaps, off-hand like - just as I -” (lines 13-14). This soldier chose to fight out of financial reasons. He did not know the repercussions but knew the decision had to be made and it was something he needed to do. In “The Death of the Ball Turret Gunner”, the character “fell into the State” (1). It is likely one of the meanings of this line is that he was drafted into the military. “State” could possibly mean the government, given the context, this was not by choice. Hardy’s and Jarrell’s renditions of their characters’ experiences in war are similar in that they are both young soldiers in a situation of necessity of a war that in unplanned and inhumane. Hardy implied this In “The Man He Killed” in line 9 “I shot him dead because – because he was my foe,” and line 18 “You shoot a fellow down you’d treat if met where any bar is,” This forces the reader to see the violence and cruelty of war. In “The Death if a Ball Turret Gunner”, the reader sees brutality and cruelty. “When I died they washed me out of the turret with a hose” (5). This line is a little more intense than those of Hardy’s poem. The message is still the same: both were victims to circumstances and fate. Hardy’s character’s view towards war is a little laid back and not very traumatized at this point in his career. He does not necessarily want to kill anyone. He states that he might have seen the person he is...
Please join StudyMode to read the full document