Critical analysis of Yusef Komunyakaa's "Thanks."

Essay by nekiayrrahHigh School, 12th gradeA, November 2006

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On the outside of Yusef Komunyakaa's "Thanks" is a very hopeless type of story about a young man in the Vietnam War who recounts events in which could have been his last. He gives thanks to certain objects, as if they were the reason that he did not in fact get shot, or that he didn't trip over a landmine. The thanks he is giving could be interrupted as thanks to God for these objects, or a downright statement of a lack of god in his life or this war. Komunyakaa is making a statement about the war, and about his beliefs, though it is only with further dissection that the reader can begin to see which side Komunyakaa is coming from; the religious side or an almost denouncement of religion and a lack of a god in the Vietnam War.

The poem opens with Komunyakaa giving thanks "for the tree between me & a sniper's bullet."

Komunyakaa is thanking the tree for coming in between him and the bullet. In the next couple of lines he states that he doesn't know "what made the grass sway seconds before the Viet Cong raised his soundless rifle." The reader gets the alliteration from the sway, seconds, and soundless, which gives the reader an almost calmed sense about it; it's not so much that the Viet Cong raised his rifle attempting to kill the narrator, but that the grass swayed seconds before he raised his soundless rifle. Nature seems to be the one Komunyakaa seems to be referring to when he is giving his thanks, which could be directly linked to God, or, taken the opposite way, as a glorification of nature rather than the act of God.

During the next couple of lines we get a look into his...