Facing It

by James Willie Brown

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Identify one specific quality of the speaker in "Facing It" by Yusef Komunyakaa, then offer one or more quotes from the poem to support your point.

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In Yusef Komunyakaa's poem “Facing It," a quality the narrator demonstrates is, hauntingly, traumatization due to his experience in the Vietnam War. As he stands in front of the Vietnam Veterans Memorial, he has a flashback to a harrowing experience in which a mine explodes. He tries to convince himself he is immune to the anger and trauma he feels.

I said I wouldn't, dammit: No tears.

I'm stone. I'm flesh.

As he searches through the names on the memorial wall, he “half expects” to find his own. Even as a survivor, he cannot let go of the haunting memories, knowing how many others died.

I go down the 58,022 names,

half-expecting to find

my own in letters like smoke.

His enduring mental trauma is exposed when he describes the mine explosion that killed his fellow serviceman. He returns to the moment of the explosion when he sees the name.

I touch the name Andrew Johnson;

I see the booby trap's white flash.

He continues to look at the memorial from different angles. He sees a man who lost an arm. Then he sees a woman who, in his imagination, is trying to erase names from the monument, but she is only fixing a little boy’s hair. His memory does not allow his mind to erase the terrible things he endured during the Vietnam War.

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