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Why Soldiers Won't Talk
Transcript of Why Soldiers Won't Talk
Jessica Tan, Hend Massarani
"Why Soldiers Won't Talk" and "The Death of the Ball Turret Gunner"
Why Soldiers Won't Talk
In 1943, he spent six months as a World War II correspondent, producing works such as "Why Soldiers Won't Talk"
In 1962, he received the Nobel Prize in Literature “for his realistic as well as his imaginative writings.”
By John Steinbeck
World War II
Britain and France declared war after Adolf Hitler’s invasion of Poland in 193
The war dragged on for 6 years until the final Allied defeat of both Nazi Germany and Japan in 1945
Reactions toward the horrors of war were expressed through literature
The Death of the Ball Turret Gunner
WWII was the first time aerodynamic technology was used in combat
A ball turret was a Plexiglas bubble on the underside of a plane that fired at the enemy
Inside, a cramped solider had control with only his feet on the pedals
The soldier inside the turret was most vulnerable because it was the enemy's primary target
In 1942, he enlisted in WWII service, where he trained pilots and wrote poems capturing the horror and dreariness of military life.
Best known for his searing poetry about World War II: "The Death of the Ball Turret Gunner"
by Randall Jarrell
War effects many facets of life, including the mind, body, and spirit.
The story first questions why soldiers, even the most boastful ones, are quiet after the war
Steinbeck believes that it is because they simply do not remember
The whole body is battered by emotions, physical trauma, and confusion
The value of a life diminishes during warfare.
"A woman is said to feel the same way when she tries to remember what childbirth was like...the system provides the shield and then removes the memory, so that a woman can have another child and a man can go into combat again."
The reason why men don't remember the war is because they were too occupied on their physical and emotional condition to comprehend the situation as a whole
All the senses are overwhelmed during battle
"In all kinds of combat the whole body is battered by emotion. "
"The eardrums are tortured by blast and the eyes ache from the constant hammering. "
"You laugh at things which are not ordinarily funny and you become enraged at trifles."
All the main nerve trunks are deadened, and out of the battered cortex curious dreamlike thoughts emerge.
Steinbeck compares the inability to recount certain experiences of soldiers to childbirth in mothers.
Although both situations are different, they describe how the body uses it as a mechanism to clear the mind in order to experience it again.
When the war is over, your sleep is ridden with visions and hallucinations
Men aren't the same after war
"From my mother's sleep, I fell into the State,"
Lines 3 and 4
"And I hunched in its belly till my wet fur froze."
"Six miles from earth, loosed from its dream of life,
I woke to black flak and the nightmare fighters."
"When I died they washed me out of the turret with a hose."
The imagery of a hunched soldier in the turret is like a fetus in a mother's womb
This represents the calm before the storm
The conditions during the flight are so uncomfortable that the fur from his jacket is frozen
The "Mother" has several meanings (maternal figure, mother nature, god)
The speaker falls into the hands of the government
The high altitude of the soldier represents his normal life left far below
The positive words "dream" and "life" form a contrast with negative words " black" and "nightmares" representing the stark contrast between life and death or war and peace
Speaker reveals that he has been dead this whole time
The speaker shows no emotion, and speaks of his own death in a blunt, factual manner
This shows the insignificance of his death
His causality was just an expected sacrifice
Symbolizes the unforgiving nature of war
Casualties are an expected outcome
Individual deaths are insignificant
Soldiers don't realize their innocence until they're hit with the harsh reality of warfare.