to examine a literary perspective on the war in Vietnam: Denise Levertov, The Pilot. Text of the poem is posted at the end of this description.
review any notes, lectures, and readings to help analyze selected aspects of the poem, and write an essay that explains the overall political message of the poem as it relates to the American role in the war in Vietnam.
In your essay, you might focus on:
the narrator’s point of view
the characters (Mrs. Brown)
what the poem reveals about the bombing campaign
the relationship between the war and the home front
Also, respond personally to the poem.
in what ways did the poem affect you?
what do you find particularly effective about the poem and why?
Tie your essay together with a thesis statement, which makes a judgment about the poem.
a 350-500 word paper that uses internal citation and includes a short Works Cited list (if appropriate). Note: if you only use the story itself as a source, there is no need to use citations. If you also use another source, include that source in your work cited list (along with the poem).
Because they were prisoners,
because they were polite and friendly and lonesome and homesick,
because they said Yes, they knew
the names of the bombs they dropped
but didn’t say whether they understood what these bombs
are designed to do
to human flesh, and because
I didn’t ask them, being unable to decide
whether to ask would serve
any purpose other than cruelty, and
because since then I met Mrs. Brown, the mother of one of their fellow prisoners,
and loved her, for she has the same lovingkindness in her
that I saw in Vietnamese women (and men too)
and because my hostility left the room and wasn’t there
when I thought I needed it
while I was drinking tea with the POW’s,
because of all these reasons I hope
they were truly as ignorant,
as they seemed,
I hope their chances in life up to this point
have been poor,
I hope they can truly be considered
victims of the middle America they come from,
their American Legionnaire fathers, their macho high schools,
their dull skimped Freshman English courses,
for if they did understand precisely
what they were doing, and did it anyway, and would do it again,
then I must learn to distrust
my own preference for trusting people,
then I must learn to question
my own preference for liking people,
then I must learn to keep
my hostility chained to me
so it won’t leave me when I need it.
And if it is proved to me
that these men understood their acts,
how shall I ever again
be able to meet the eyes of Mrs. Brown?
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