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The Death of the Ball Turret Gunner

The Death of the Ball Turret Gunner


by Randall Jarrell

The Death of the Ball Turret Gunner Questions

Bring on the tough stuff - there’s not just one right answer.

  1. Why did Jarrell make this poem so short? What would change if the poem was much longer? Would it be better or worse to have more information? Why?
  2. There has been a great deal written (and filmed) about the horrors of war. How does "The Death of the Ball Turret Gunner" measure up to other things you've read or movies you've seen in terms of how it captures the terror of battle? How does Jarrell try to capture the experience in such a short poem? Was he successful?
  3. How would the poem be different if the speaker was someone other than the gunner? What are some other speaker options for this poem and what effect would the new speaker have on the gunner's tale?
  4. Jarrell chose a very clear, direct title for this poem. Was it a good choice? How would the experience of reading the poem change if the title was more mysterious?
  5. How would you describe the tone of this poem? What elements create the poem's tone, or mood?

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