The Yellow Bird Analysis

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Long, American fingers crossing over 49ers jerseys. Orioles caps plucked from foreheads. A troop of nine year olds in blue speedos impatiently tapping their feet and twisting their legs as a loudspeaker screeches overhead. A celebrity wrapped in a tight red dress, pressing a microphone to the puckered “o” of her lips as her vocal cords strive for new heights. Every Superbowl, every little league game, every hot, heated, and overcrowded band of bottoms squeezed on metal, dented bleachers, Americans, aided by pride and alcohol, bellow the “Star Spangled Banner.” However, despite these reoccurring scenes in every American’s life, Kevin Powers does not quote the U.S.’ national anthem in his novel The Yellow Birds. Instead, Powers ends his novel with John Bartley, a young soldier, being…show more content…
As young, long-haired, bearded pacifists of the 1960s painted on cardboard, “make love, not war,” there even exists a war-on-war. However, what is obvious about this American, counterculture slogan, war is created. War is man-made. Reading the first line of The Yellow Birds, “the war tried to kill us in the spring” (Powers, ch. 1), Powers does not express human possession over war. Instead, Powers personifies war. Humans do not control war, rather, war controls humans. In less then ten words, the reader understands that The Yellow Birds is not a glorified memoir of a soldier’s accounts in Iraq. Bartley is not a hero, and Powers never destines him to be one. As Bartley, the main character of the novel, confesses, the American soldiers “were not destined at all” (Powers, ch. 1). Bartley is the war’s prey. And though Bartley, unlike his friend Murphy, never dies, the war gains control over him; through structured, balanced sentences and Bartley’s rote attitude, Bartley has been imprisoned. He fights in battles in Al Tafar, yet Bartley does not fight his predestined fate, “I knew the war would have its way” (Powers, ch.

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