The Death of the Ball Turret Gunner Questions and Answers
by Randall Jarrell

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In Randall Jarrell's "Death of the Ball Turret Gunner," please contrast the speaker’s actual identify with the one he creates for himself in lines 1-2.

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In "The Death of the Ball Turret Gunner" by Randall Jarrell, the first two lines of the poem are:

From my mother's sleep I fell into the State,

And I hunched in its belly till my wet fur froze.

These lines reflect the innocence of the speaker. The place he describes in these first two lines is [metaphorically] similar to his mother's womb where he was safe. The "wet fur froze" brings to mind the birth of an animal into frigid temperatures—his birth into a cold and dangerous world. As he is born, he finds himself high above the earth.

Six miles from earth, loosed from the dream of life...

Reality has set in. His birth is not a literal one, but figurative in the sense that he is being introduced ("born") into a deadly reality—that of war—snatched early from the innocence of a young life...a "dream of life," which cannot compare to this waking nightmare.

I woke to black flak and the nightmare fighters.

When he awakens , there is "antiaircraft fire" all around,...

(The entire section contains 555 words.)

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