An Analysis of Komanuyakaa Facing It

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An Analysis of Facing It

Yusef Komanuyakaa's poem "Facing It" is a brutal examination of the affects that war leaves upon men. The reader can assume that Komanuyakaa drew upon his own experiences in Vietnam, thereby making the poem a personal statement. However, the poem is also a universal and real description of the pain that comes about for a soldier when remembering the horror of war. He creates the poem's persona by using flashbacks to the war, thereby informing the reader as to why the speaker is behaving and feeling the way he is. The thirty-one lines that make up "Facing It" journey back and forth between present and past to tell the story of one man's life.

The informal language and intimacy of the poem are two techniques the poet uses to convey his message to his audience. He speaks openly and simply, as if he is talking to a close friend. The language is full of slang, two-word sentences, and rambling thoughts; all of which are aspects of conversations between two people who know each other well. The fact that none of the lines ryhme adds to the idea of an ordinary conversation, because most people do not speak in verse. The tone of the poem is rambling and gives the impression that the speaker is thinking and jumping from one thought to the next very quickly. His outside actions of touching the wall and looking at all the names are causing him to react internally. He is remembering the past and is attempting to suppress the emotions that are rising within him.

The first two lines of the poem set the mood of fear and gloom which is constant throughout the remainder of the poem. The word choice of "black" to describe the speaker's face can convey several messages (502). The most obvious meaning ...

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..." the speaker is telling his audience that the dead soldier was a young man. The tenderness of his age further amplifies the horrific nature of war.

The poem's persona and the Vietnam Veterans Memorial Wall depend on each other to express the poem's intention. The poem's intention is to show that war is lethal, less than gloriful, and extremely real. Although years have gone by, these recollections are still affecting how he lives. Simply standing in front of the wall reminds the speaker of all of this. The Veterans Memorial takes on a life of its own. While the speaker is in its presense, the wall controls him. It forces him to remember painful memories and even cry, something he promised himself he would not do. The persona in the poem reacts to the power the wall has and realizes that he must face his past and everything related to it, especially Vietnam.

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