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Johnny Got His Gun

Trumbo, Dalton. Johnny Got His Gun. New Jersey: Lyle Stuart, 1939. Print.
ISBN: 0-553-27432-5
Johnny Got His Gun
Written by: Dalton Trumbo
Reviewed by: Nathan Aleman
Recommended audience: High School

In the beginning of Johnny Got His Gun, the main character Joe remembers in a dream where he answers the telephone and is told that his 51-year father has died and has to go home immediately. He would spend his days in the cigar store talking about the upcoming war and then months later the war started when his dad died. Joe later feels a pinch and realizes his arm got cut off, he feels like he’s drowning while bombs are hitting the water while mentally calling for his mother to wake him up. Joe dreamed of a rat crawling inside his open wound, eating him, and there is nothing he could do about it. Whenever Joe had nightmares, he would calm himself by realizing it was a nightmare and open his eyes. But Joe doesn’t have no eyes now and wonders how he is going to be able to move without legs. Joe considers himself ” the nearest thing to a dead man on earth” and thinks about the people who have died in war who wanted to go home alive to their families. Joe would trade democracy, honor, independence, freedom, and decency for his life back, because “there’s nothing noble about dying.”

Joe tries to bring back his memory by thinking about math, planets, time, songs, and more. But he tries to remember time by thinking about what time he realized he got hit with a bombshell and was deaf. Joe gets visitors in the hospital and realizes they are putting medals on his chest and kissing his forehead. Joe notices the doctor is injecting him with a sedative and Joe tries to shake his head no. But then his mind gets foggy and realizes they have won again. Joe visions that he sees his war buddies before the war and they don’t talk to them because they know he is going to be the only survivor while they all die. Joe gets a new day nurse who can write letters on his chest and he can feel it while she spells out “Merry Christmas.” Joe is very excited that he has a way to communicate and thinks back to Christmas where his mom would read him “Twas the Night Before Christmas.” A male nurse comes into the room and then ask him “What do you want?”

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