Dien Cai Dau-Book Analysis

Essay by senemcCollege, UndergraduateA-, October 2009

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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...