A Complicated Return

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The Yellow Birds, a novel by Kevin Powers, and ReEntry, a play by Emily Ackerman and K.J. Sanchez both show the difficulties faced by returning soldiers. As Bartle in The Yellow Birds recounts his coming home story, we learn that he has many of the same symptoms we commonly see in returned soldiers such as guilt, depression and trouble adjusting to civilian life. The returning soldiers and their families in ReEntry also show those symptoms by the words they speak to the audience members. The format of both these works had a great affect of what they were able to accomplish. The Yellow Birds is a novel narrated in first person by Bartle, a 21 year old soldier who was deployed to Al Tafar, Iraq for the the first time. In contrast, ReEntry is a docudrama and all of it’s dialog is taken from interviews with Marines and Marine families. Though both texts convey the same feelings and difficulties faced by soldiers returning home, they do it in very different yet effective ways.
One of the first difficulties Bartle is faced with on his return home is the “thank you for your service” dilemma. On his return flight home there was a layover and Bartle took this opportunity to visit the airport bar. After the bartender offers to pay for his drinks while motioning to a support the troops yellow ribbon, Bartle gets his first taste of ‘thank you’ and he immediately distastes it, “[I] didn’t want to pretend I’d done anything except survive” (Powers 107). The bartender was a little rude and had no idea what he was talking about except that the people of Iraq were supposed to be the “bad” guys. He seemed to think that talking negatively about those people would help Bartle in some way but, that is part of the reason why Bartle is upset and has a...

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...es first person and allows the reader to go in depth about one person’s experiences, feelings, and thoughts. It is a more personal type of story. The reader gets to really know and understand why Bartle reacts how he does in the situations There are more metaphors in this book compared to ReEntry. This docudrama uses the words of real people to make it’s arguments. This gives the reader the knowledge that this is something that really happens not just a story that someone made up. The number of different type of people who were interviewed also gives the read a well rounded view of how going to war affects different types of people. The play is more straightforward that the book. However the differences between these two types of works don’t make either a better work as both successfully convey how difficult it is for a returned soldier to readjust to civilian life.
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