The Death of the Ball Turret Gunner Poem Summary and Analysis | LitCharts
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The Death of the Ball Turret Gunner Summary & Analysis
by Randall Jarrell

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The American writer Randall Jarrell published "The Death of the Ball Turret Gunner" in 1945, the final year of World War II. The poem's speaker suggests that he slips from the protection of his mother's womb into "the State," where he finds himself in a ball turret (the round compartment on a bomber plane from which a gunner shoots). Metaphorically presenting the turret as another kind of womb, the speaker implies that he's as helpless as a baby—a comment on the vulnerability of innocent young men who suddenly find themselves facing the horrors of war. The final line, in which the military matter-of-factly rinses the dead speaker's remains from the plane, is a grim reflection on the way war treats young soldiers as expendable pieces of equipment.

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