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johnny got his gun
during the time dalton trumbo's johnny got his gun was written, war made a large impact upon society, because america was just entering world war ii. although the book is based upon the protagonist joe bonham fighting in world war i, the futilities and damages of war are similar and helped dalton relate more to his character. the story is one that has been yet to be told of a realistic situation in war where a soldier could loose all senses but feel as well as his limbs and still be alive with a working mind. structure of this book is very tough on the reader because it changes from memories to real and present situations. grammar of the author is used in a new style that neglects the use of proper punctuation and sentence structure to give the feel of repetition to the reader. the plot is on the basis of one who is shut out from society making his way through to communicate and get his questioned answered to be once again among the living. the author writes this story by using a structure that changes from memories to real life situations. the memories serve the purpose of showing symbolism and giving the ideas of oppression that war and the upper class has pushed upon citizens like joe bonham, the "average joes." joe's father can be seen as one of the citizens that has made a garden and had a house and was happy, but at the same time was a failure in society because he couldn't buy another fishing rod and did not have the money to live off of others. time to think and reflect gives joe time to look back at all the situations in his past that explain lower class oppression. real situations happen inside the protagonist's head also, but are about what is really happening to him and show bonham's real ingenuity and eagerness to achieve his goal. the themes created by these memories basically fall under the category of the harm of war upon the lower class. dalton does a very good job in explaining this harm simply by the word choice and illustrations of a rat chewing on a raw nub of meat and the explanations of pain and anguish that bonham always endures. mental anguish especially gives the reader an idea of pain while joe goes insane, continues to hear the bells ringing in his head, and and try after try, fails to give anyone outside his world a clue that he is still there and still not "dead". metaphors such as being stuck in the womb, stuck in a coffin, and bonham's thought of himself as a messiah beautifully symbolize trumbo's theme. sometimes he also weakened his theme by overusing repetition. in doing this, he makes the theme seem drier and less important. he tacks in stories that give explanations of bonham's past, but most that seem to only act as filler.
this anti war novel is a good read in our times, but has caused trouble in the past, which is very interesting because this book could actually be related to joe bonham's body. both would have the same impact of stopping the lower class from being sent off to war to die by making them rise up and fight for their own freedom. the effect this book could have had was the reason for it being blacklisted, rather than simply its un-american storyline. the direct audience the author would design this book for is of those who are unaware of what war could really do to them, and ones that follow blindly in the eyes of the author. dalton really went a far stretch in making a character that would hard to relate to. as a person that has lost almost everything except his mind, bonham's traits would be hard to keep believable as well as consistent without being one in his position. it was very interesting how he kept joe's mind developing and making breakthroughs. joe also shows all sorts of emotions, ranging from nervousness, anger, and insecureness to eagerness and even signs of pure joy. trumbo didn't create any minor characters that would have done anything differently if they saw a body with its head bobbing up to the last nurse that was required to make the story flow. the most disappointing part of this story is, without a doubt, the end. the end does not leave any falling action. joe bonham's goal to branch out of his silence is instantaneously cut off and left unresolved. the many questions unanswered are left to be filled by the reader and the end only serves to show that bonham finally realizes why he is cut off from society leaving a nice theme of why soldiers willingly fight in wars set by the higher authorities.