War is a dangerous place. It is not only a place of life or death physically but also mentally. As it has been proven time and time again soldiers coming “home” from war are likely to have psychological issues. This is a topic that is talked about a lot in “The Yellow Birds” by Kevin Powers. The main character Bartle struggled immensely with returning home after war. “Home” is in quotation marks because as Bartle says throughout many of the chapters in the book, the home he left from never felt the same when he returned. His world changed the moment he joined and would never be the same. As the world changes around a person it can be a shock to the system. People deal with this change differently, some may be ready to face their fears and face the change head on. Others that aren’t as ready to face the change seclude themselves so they do not to have to face the reality of their world changing. But the time will come, sooner or later, that they will have to face the change.
Bartle was in his early 20’s when he came back from his tour in Iraq. He had witnessed things that a civilian should never have to witness. When he was deployed he, and others, would often talk about going home and being reunited with love ones. What they didn’t know was how it would feel to be back home. Home was unrecognizable. Everything he had thought about as his home, now seemed to be totally different. “I was disappearing. It was as if I stripped myself away in that darkened bedroom… I would be another number for the cable news shows.”(pg.111) Bartle was going into a new phase in his life he felt as though everything he knew before, he was losing. He felt like he was losing himself. It is interesting how the one thing Bartle and his friends talked about was going home, but now that he was there, he wanted to be anywhere else. Such a big part of what was his entire life was before, was now changing right in front of him but he didn’t feel ready or comfortable with the change.
Bartle thought on at least one occasion that the life he was now living, at home, wasn’t real. The mindset of being at war had taken over his mind and there was no going back. “The rest is history, they say. Bullshit, I say. It’s imagination or it’s nothing, and must be, because what is created in this world, or made, can be undone, unmade.” (pg. 100) Bartle is mad at the world. He is mad that it’s changing, and even more importantly, his world is changing. His world isn’t changing in a small way either, it is changing in a sever way in which it will never be the world he lived in before he went to the war.
He had gone through many different traumatic incidents but when one of the most traumatic happen his world changed possibly the most. He didn’t handle it well. “By the time autumn came again I was firmly settled in the old gasworks building at the edge of the river. My life was small. I lived in an apartment on an upper floor and had little in the way companionship.” (pg. 177) Bartle feels like he no longer fit in anywhere so he separated himself from everyone. He wanted to run away from the reality of his life. His real life was quickly changing and he felt as though he could not handle it. The best way for him to deal with this was to simply shut it out for as long as possible.
In an interview with the author, Kevin Powers, he said, "The most meaningful praise I've gotten is from other vets who've said that I was able to articulate something that they had been feeling for a really long time but hadn't been able to express." This shows that the author's motivation for writing this book was to articulate something that other soldiers and vets didn't know how to put into words. This gave other veterans a voice that they didn't have before. The story was written as his outlet. It isn’t always necessary for a support system to be a human being but anyway to talk about the feelings bottled up inside.
People deal with changes in the world differently and there are factors that play into the way they handle the situation. Some people that are in the midst of a change, will introvert themselves and not share what they are going through with anyone. This leads to their emotions being bottled up. People that have found a way to talk about what they are going through usually have a healthier life. People have a different way of going through change, Bartle handled it one way and the author a different way.
Works Cited for Analytical Essay:
"'Yellow Birds' Author Kevin Powers Talks about Iraq War, Returning Vets." Interview. Go Knoxville. Scripps Media Inc., 18 Oct. 2012. Web. 12 Jan. 2015. <http://www.knoxnews.com/knoxville/life/yellow-birds-author-kevin-powers-talks-about-iraq>.
Powers, Kevin. The Yellow Birds: A Novel. New York: Little, Brown, 2012. Print.
Change is scary. When I changed from elementary school to high school, I happened to go with a lot of my friends. For a while I would only hang out with my friends from elementary school because I felt comfortable around them. I had known them for years, they were familiar. We all stuck together, we had planned to do that for the next four years. I would say what we did was common. Not many people branched out at first. I think this helped me a lot. I could get over fear of being in high school and then I would later find new friends and branch out.
Bartle did not do this. He wanted no recollection of what happened abroad and would try his hardest to forget. This meant not getting back together with friends from his platoon. I think if he had gotten together with them it would have made the transition easier, like it did for me and my friends. When you have a support system around you it makes it a lot easier for you to be able to talk and face changes head on and feel more comfortable about who you are and the situation you are in. When you surround yourself with people that understand what you are going through they can not only be there for you but you can also be there for them. It makes the change easier to get through and less painful when you can talk about it.
My grandfather has been in a wheelchair my entire life. When I was little I didn’t like how much attention would be brought on me when I was out with him. I felt like everyone was looking at me, my solution was to hide. I would hide behind coat racks, my mom, anything I could find. Since he lives in England I didn’t ever have time to get used to it, by the time I would get any less uncomfortable, we would be coming home. It wasn’t until I became much more sure of myself that I was comfortable with others staring at us as when we were out. I realized that the most important thing was to have self confidence. When Bartle came home he was uncomfortable with himself, which made him want to hide. He became introverted and didn’t want to be around others.
Going to my Grandfather’s house was always like going to a new land, everything seemed to be new. I felt uncomfortable and didn’t know how to handle it. I, much like Bartle, handled my discomfort internally. I was uncomfortable with being somewhere new, Bartle wasn’t somewhere new, he was in the place he grew up the same place he had spent so much of his life. But to him it wasn’t old it was a whole new place with because he changed, he wasn’t the same. He wasn’t comfortable with what he had become into.
I was 12 when my step father moved in with my mom and I. It was the biggest change I have ever encountered. It had been my mom and I since I was 6 months old and I wasn’t ready for that to change. I felt like he was invading my world. My step dad is a really nice person, but he was a major change in my world. I couldn’t talk to my mom about it because she would think I was just being mean. I kept it all to myself and it felt like at any moment I might explode.
Nothing is ever the same after the life change. The thing that distinguishes people is how they deal with it. For me in different situation I react differently. Bartle bottled his up all of the time and the author wrote all of his feelings in a book. There may not be a clear idea at the time of what to do but if you talk about what you are going through it will have a positive effect on your physical and mental health.