Dien Cai Dau Book Analysis

1863 words - 7 pages

Losing One’s Identity Through HardshipsThe poetry involved in Yusef Komunyakaa’s “Dien Cai Dau” is about the hardships of the Vietnamese War. It involves the experiences of both black and white soldiers as well the Vietnamese people. The experiences that the soldiers had in wartime are expressed through the feelings of war. These elements convey the loss of individuality of the soldiers. The “Death of the Ball Turret Gunner” by Randall Jarrell, conveys the idea of lost identity through the sacrifice of oneself for the good of the whole. “Vigil Strange I Kept on the Field One Night” by Walt Whitman is another war poem that expresses the loss of individuality through the loss of a loved one. The poem embraces the importance of friendship and how losing someone so close to you could lead to one’s mental loss of identity. Like the poem by Whitman, “The Lost Pilot” by James Tate shows the lost identity through his father that he lost in a plane crash. Although the poets use different experiences that the people had in life, through imagery they are able to reveal the lost identity.Yusef Komunyakaa’s experience in the Vietnamese war is expressed through the feelings and the incidents faced by soldiers in the war zone. The soldiers fighting in the war did not have any choice but to fight for their own country. Throughout the book, the soldiers had to camouflage themselves in order to live. The first poem of the book, “Camouflaging the Chimera,” sets the tone of the whole book by pointing out how the soldiers are camouflaging in order to hide from the enemy. The poet talks about how they were getting prepared by “[tying] branches to [their] helmets” (Komunyakaa 1: 3). As they are hide from the enemies, they feel invisible which conveys the feeling of lost identity. When they feel invisible, they start to interact with creatures that do not exist leading them to uncertainty. The soldiers start to “slow-drag with ghosts” (Komunyakaa 10: 3). This line indicates that through the fierce conditions they face, the soldiers start not to feel like themselves and imagine their selves dancing with ghosts. The image of soldiers dancing with their ghosts is a good gage of their state of mind. In “A Greenness Taller Than Gods,” the poet talks about how the soldiers moved “like a platoon of silhouettes”, meaning that they were invisible and how they all moved at once (Komunyakaa 19:11). Their individuality was lost since they acted as one. The poet’s word choice, silhouettes, conveys the idea of soldiers that appear without the inner soul. They have lost so much of their selves to the war that they are just have their body representing them. The soldiers are so worried not to be seen that they are “unaware [that their] shadows untied from [them], wandered off & got lost” (Komunyakaa 20-22: 11). Even though the words here do not have such...

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