Essay on The Death Of The Ball Turret Gunner

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“The death of the ball turret gunner”
“The poem Death of the ball turret gunner” by Randall Jarrell describes the life of a world war two ball turret gunner, on his mission of protecting his B-17 while on it is on an air raid, bombing Germany. Jarrell somehow shows, in vivid detail how harsh and unforgiving war is, and the shear courage and resolve of what has now become known, as the greatest generation in only five lines. (Gale)
Jarrell also shows us, that the men fighting on both sides are in a way innocent much like children, who have been taken from their sleeping mothers, and forced to go to war, and face its horrors and possibly death. (Bassett) To fully understand this poem one must first know what a purpose of a ball turret
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( Humphrey)
Gunners where also the first target of attacking Luftwaffe fighters, if they gunners were killed then the aircraft would make a very easy target and the German pilots knew this. In the poem Jarrell goes on to describe the fighters as “nightmare” obviously because of the sheer volume of attacking aircraft that the Luftwaffe sent up, in an attempt to stem the flow of enemy bombers, and preserve the manufacturing structure of the Third Reich. (Bassett) Over 11,000 American aircraft fell victim to the Luftwaffe, and anti-aircraft fire “flack” which Jarrell simply describes as the “black flack”. Flack was one of the most feared weapons of the war for bomber crews, even more so than enemy fighters mainly because there was really no protection from it. (Humphrey)
Bomber crews also faced, a nearly unbearable climate in the unpressurized cabin of the B-17’s at twenty five thousand feet the temperate over Germany where well below zero even in the summer. Which Jarrell describes by saying “I hunched in its belly till my wet fur froze” describing that the Air force issued jacket was unable to provide protection to the gunner, from the extreme cold at altitude. This was also compounded by the fact the gunner was sweating out of sheer terror, causing the fur lined jacket to freeze. (Bassett)
Overall Jarrell paints a vivid picture of what life and death was for one of the brave men. In the final line he states that he was washed

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