Yellow Birds By Kevin Powers: A Psychological Analysis

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Americans have been participating in various wars since the beginning of time. From the Revolutionary War to both World Wars to Iraq, about 42 million people have served in wars, and over 650,000 have died on the battlefield, according to the UCSB Scienceline. It has been studied for a long time that going to battle renders many psychological effects on the individual. From looking at themselves differently to looking at their families differently, there are all sorts of effects the battlefield has on the individual. War has many impacts on the individual by changing the soldier’s self-image, altering the soldier’s connections with family and friends, and leaving long-lasting psychological effects, thus destroying the person that the soldier…show more content…
Just as teenagers like to have relaxing time to think over life, soldiers on the battlefield need to have that time to themselves. Sometimes, they like to just sit around and drink some beers and reflect on life. The book Yellow Birds, written by Kevin Powers, is a realistic fictional depiction of the life of a soldier the reader knows as Private Bartle. The story takes the reader through Bartle’s point of view in the war, along with looking at his friend Private Murph, through Murph’s death and Bartle’s imprisonment. During one section, Private Bartle describes getting a care package from home, and in this care package he had some whiskey. He and the other soldiers proceed to drink the whiskey and reflect on their lives for a minute. (Powers 83). This calms down the drastic changes in life for a minute and reminds the soldiers who they really are. This gets the reader to realize that the soldiers, though changed, are the same people who want to sit with their friends for a bit. In The Things They Carried, a nonfiction book on the Vietnam War, author Tim O’Brien also showcases soldiers’ reactions to certain events, whether enjoyable or not. O’Brien had a friend named Bob Kiley, also referred to as Rat. Rat was very close with a friend named Kurt Lemon, who died in Vietnam, so he writes a letter to the friend’s sister explaining what happened and what a fun soldier he was to be around. Rat…show more content…
They may have to hide certain things from their family. In The Yellow Birds, the soldier’s translator was named Malik, and he was from Iraq. (Powers 9). He could not tell his family where he was or give them any update on his status, simply because it would put them and himself in danger. The reader can be sure that his family is concerned about him and his whereabouts, but he cannot reveal anything. In addition, soldiers may feel that they lose certain friendships or relationships because they were gone for so long. In the 2012 song “Some Nights” by artist Fun, there are mentions of war themes. The speaker questions his motives for anything in life, saying, “So this is it. I sold my soul for this? Washed my hands for this?/ I miss my mom and dad for this?” (Fun, lns. 31-33). The speaker is unsure of what he did, and if it was for the right reasons. The listener is unsure if the speaker actually went to war or is comparing that action to something else, but it feels of the same caliber to the speaker. Going to war is difficult and straining on the relationships between the soldier and their loved ones at home. As many find long-distance relationships hard, these relationships are just more difficult and more
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