Weapons Training

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Weapons Training by Bruce Dawe shows us the realities of war. It is a drill sergeant speaking to his new recruits. The poem starts in the middle of a sentence, giving the impression that we might have fallen asleep like one of the young recruits being shouted at. It serves to catch our attention. Note the use of spaces and pauses: these show a dramatic monologue, because they are natural spaces to take breath. Dramatic monologues give insight into the speaker, their situation, and the people around the speaker and their reactions. "Pitter-patter" is normally a gentle sound, but in this situation it is made to sound harsh. "Are you a queer?" This question reflects the tone of the whole poem: to be called a "queer" is clearly insulting to these men. Also is the start of a whole string of insults littered through the monologue, delivered in a blunt, confronting tone. The poem is full of crude sexual references: "Cockpit drill" and "crown jewels", for example. "Mob of the little yellows" - the sergeant dehumanises the enemy by making a racist comment, making it easier for the soldiers to kill them (if they're not really people, it doesn't matter if they die). "Turning the key in the ignition", apart from being a reference to sex, serves to give the soldiers hope by reminding them of coming back home. They are conscript soldiers and not used to the strict discipline of the Army; the sergeant must show his authority to impress into them the necessity of listening to him: it's the only hope they've got of staying alive. He drops back into dramatic monologue, using "you" all the way because in the end it will be up to the individual soldiers to determine what happens to them. "Charlies" is a racist name given to the Viet Cong. At every opportunity he degrades the enemy: "rotten fish-sauce breath" Dawe shows the realities of war: "alive one moment, dead the next". "too late ... your tripes are round your neck ...

you know what you are? You're dead dead dead"....
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