As Adolf Hitler and his National-Socialist party rose to power, along with the Japanese Imperial Army in the 1930's, the fear of a second World War was quickly becoming a reality. In 1941, that reality became a living nightmare, and once again, the world was engulfed in war. World War II would soon become the most costly and intense war in human history due to its many facets: immense human suffering, fierce indoctrinations, and the use of new and extremely devastating weapons such as the machine gun, and the atom bomb.
"The Death of the Ball Turret Gunner" gives a small insight to such chaos. It is a poem written by Randall Jarrel while he served in the Army Air Force during World War II. It is a poem about the thoughts the gunner might have felt as he carried out his mission, and is probably based on firsthand experience with a ball turret or a gunner. "From my mother's sleep I fell into the State,
And I hunched in its belly till my wet fur froze.
Six miles from earth, loosed from its dream of life,
I woke to black flak and the nightmare fighters.
When I died they washed me out of the turret with a hose."
A ball turret is exactly what its name implies: a plexiglass sphere with two .50 caliber machine guns each holding 500 rounds, mounted on the underside of American B-17 or B-24 bombers, and capable of rotating 360°. It was used to defend against attacking enemy aircraft during bombing missions, and was operated by one person sitting inside the ball itself. "From my mother's sleep I fell into the State"
In this line, the author is metaphorically comparing and constrasting a mother's love to a soldier's duty. He is showing how being cramped in a sphere attatched to the underside of a plane reminds the gunner of embracing his loving mother's warmth by being inside her womb, only to be woken up from this daydream and realizing once again that he is just another expendable soldier. He has abandoned his civilian "state" of mind, only to become a...
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