Study Guide

The Death of the Ball Turret Gunner Power

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From my mother's sleep I fell into the State, (1)

Doesn't sound like "the State" is where the speaker intended to be. How would this line be different if the speaker, entered or joined or followed "the State?" By choosing fell, Jarrell makes "the State" seem unavoidable, almost like a giant hole the speaker can't get around, and therefore powerful.

And I hunched in its belly till my wet fur froze. (2)

Anyone want to hang out in the State's belly? Not us. Doesn't sound like our kind of scene. We need a little more TLC (the band and the attention). So, why does Jarrell depict the belly of "the State" as such a harsh environment? If it is such an unpleasant place, why doesn't the speaker just leave? What power does "the State" hold over the speaker?

When I died they washed me out of the turret with a hose. (5)

The gunner is killed, washed away and forgotten. The warring state uses its citizens, sometimes against their will, and when they are used up (dead), the state washes them away like a stain. Cold!

But how does the speaker feel about "the State?" Does he seem particularly upset by his own death and how he died? How do you think Jarrell felt about the power of the state?

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