Our Gun Barrels
Essay-Context historical and social can have an influence on the way literature is written or received. Discuss with reference to a text you have studied.
Is there still a human part on soldiers or they have become robots without feelings ? In the poem “We Never Know” by the writer Yusef Komunyakaa, he gives the reader the impression that, though they are in war and trained to not fall into “games”, soldiers could have feelings . The poem is based on the American vs Vietnam (also called the Vietcongs). This war was during 1968. In the poem you will see different phrases that could express different emotions all different for each reader and their perspective, such as “He danced with tall grass for a moment, like if he was swaying with a woman”. When I first read that part, I didn't get it that clear ,but I kept reading the poem and I understood the real meaning of what the writer was trying to tell us. Remember not everyone gets the same feeling of the poem. In the poem, Komunyakaa exposes the soldiers if they have feelings or they just became robots throughout the years. He does this by showing the feelings of empathy and respect, the humanity on the poem, and the memories and remembrance towards the other soldiers.
The poem reveals the importance of respect towards everyone, even if it is your enemy and the empathy we should have. On the poem says“He danced with tall grass for a moment, like if he was swaying with a woman. Our gun barrels glowed white hot.” The poem refers that a soldier has been shoot and his body was making side to side moves before falling. Therefore the part swaying with a woman. The soldier showed empathy with the enemy when the writer says “ I slid the wallet into your pocket and turned him over so he wouldn’t be kissing the ground.” Their you see the first action of respect and I put my own reflection into this quote. That the soldier turned him over in a sign of respect but also in religions it could be that represent that your body will stay behind but your soul it may still be there watching and protecting their love ones and to like persive where he’s going looking at the sky, making a better perception on how it will be to go up into heaven and see beauty on the the way up. Let’s the soldier didn’t turned him over. Itwould be a sign of disrespectand no show of empathy towards life and you should know that, the person death could be you just that you were lucky it wasn’t your time.
Based on the structure of the poem we easily perceive, that humanity the soldier has with the enemy . Giving a good fact and a life lesson. It doesn't matter whether you know a person or not. We are alike, we are both humans and in a way we are all connected, we all live on the same earth. As in the poem says “I pulled the crumbled photograph from his fingers. There's no other way: I fell in love”. We don't know what was on the picture, but we could assume by the type of reaction the soldier had, that it was like a family or someone important on the other soldiers family or relatives and therefore the part “I fell in love”. That’s good. Rather they kill someone they still show how is life and how it could be taken at any moment . On the poem Komunyakaa highlights the part of “I slid the wallet into his pocket and turned him over, so he wouldn't be kissing the ground’ .that shows us that soldiers still have feelings and they care for the people they love. Do they only care about their family? Here enters the part of memories and empathy.
The writer exposes the clear way that even on war you remember your family and then flashes of memories with them come back to you. The part of family and loved ones will never be forgotten. Not even in war. In the poem there is a part that said “There’s no other way to see this: I fall in love”. Referring to a picture he saw, which the writer doesn't tell us what is in the picture, but we assume is like a family or someone who remembered him of a loved one. There we see something important. They are trained to forget everything on their past and fight just for a cause. There we see there is no such thing as love and memories. That’s something that also happened to me. My grandma passed away but I still know she is with me by my side. That’s what happened with the soldier. He knows he can die at any moment but that his loved ones will remember him as he remembered them when he saw the picture. No matter what any reason memories will never die and will always give you a sense of hope on the darkest moment that's why the soldier is in love with the moment. So, this meant to say not even death can take memories from you. “The morning cleared again except for a distant mortar and choppers taking off”. Memories also had a bad side less than the good ones but they also live. He was in peace with himself but the noises and sounds reminded him that he still had to fight, that he couldn’t give up hope if he wanted to make more memories.
After reviewing the poem, we found out the importance of respect towards everyone and that sense of humanity we need to apply, also highlighting the role, memories play in our daily life. We identify how the main character and the dead soldier could be more alike to each other. The soldier also had someone important in their life, which the picture made that flashback to his mind, and he felt what is was like to lose someone and how lucky he was because it could been the other way around. If that happened, we wouldn’t be reading the story in the same way as Komunyakaa wrote it. We need to be sure of our moves in life because a wrong step could be the last one. What I am trying to express is, that life is fragile and nothing is for sure for no one, there is no security that could protect us and there is no place that could hide you from the unexpected visit of your own destiny. Just make sure you are proud of who you are and what you have given to the world.