In the two poems “Dulce et Decorum Est,” by Wilfred Owen and “The Death of the Ball Turret Gunner,” by Randall Jarrell, a common theme is expressed among the two. The expendability of life in warfare is that theme. Both poems express this theme in the same way and make readers realize the worth of life to our armed forces. In “The Death of the Ball Turret Gunner” this theme is shown through the eye of a man that had to experience death in a way that no other person would understand. The writer of the poem, Randall Jarrell recollects his time spend in the air force and his duties.
Of which he had to clean out the ball turret of aircraft when they were soiled. This task is what Randall speaks of during his poem. The theme of expendability of life in warfare, can be placed on this task since what Randall was really doing was washing the turret of the human remains with a hose. This action was not something that only happened once; this was his duty, an action that was performed regularly. The cleaning and repair of the turret just meant that another body could be placed in the turret with no emotion or hesitation.
In “Dulce et Decorum Est” the theme is also shown through the eyes of a man that had to experience death on a daily basis. The writer of the poem, Wilfred Owen describes an event that occurred during service. Wilfred’s description of is that of a fellow brother drowning in gas clouds and the action or lack of taken after his death. The theme that the two poems have in common comes into play when Wilfred recalls the event of other men throwing their brother’s body into a wagon and continuing forward like nothing had happened.
This action too shows the worth of ones life in the armed forces and that a life can easily be replaced. The two poems, “The Death of a Ball Turret Gunner” and “Dulce et Decorum Est” are two works that demonstrate how fragile life is and that to some life can simply be replaced. The theme of the expendability of life in warfare can be placed on both of the poems since in both life is lost and replaced without reluctance. Even though the two poems were written in two different time periods they both convey the same theme, and do that so in a way that is some what understated but very direct in showing the expendability of life.
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