Johnny Got His Gun by Dalton Trumbo

Johnny Got His Gun by Dalton Trumbo


(Instructors’ name)



Johnny Got His Gun by Dalton Trumbo

The book is about war, and one of the main characters is Joe Bonham. He awakens in a hospital bed after he gets hit by a shell at war; he is a young man who serves in the 2nd world war. After he awakens, he is hit by realities of war. His condition is pitiful as he has lost his limbs including his legs and arms. He does not even have teeth, eyes, tongue or even ears. However, he later realizes that his mind is fine, and that puts him in an extremely difficult position. The first thing that comes to Joe’s mind is death. He cannot bear to live like this and he attempts to suffocate himself to death something he fails at because he has a tracheotomy which he does not have control over. His first desire to die quickly evaporates and he decides to serve as a true example of how war can be torturous. He asks to be put in a glass box and be carried around his society to show how horrible war is. He also finds a way to communicate with his doctors. Joe constantly drifts between fantasy and reality, and his thoughts carry the readers to different scenes in his old life and in his life at war. This book is one of the greatest books of war that almost reflects clearly the horrors of war. This paper will review this book for the purposes of analyzing a number of these horrors so that the audience can realize that war can almost never result to desirable outcomes, and if it does, many soldiers pay heavily the price of desirable outcomes.

This is an extremely powerful novel. The story is narrated in the view point of one soldier who participated in war, Joe. The soldier is horrifically injured at war and completely disabled. The only functional thing left in him is his brain. As he tries to understand and cope with his current situation, he wanders back and forth between his old life and life at war, and his current situation. As a result of this, we are able to fully understand and get a complete picture of all of his life. One of the most notable things about the author’s prose is that it lives an unforgettable picture in the minds of the readers. The author is extremely direct and at times blunt when he describes the experiences soldiers like Joe had in the war. However, one later realizes that the way the author tells his story is a way to show the terrible human cost and horrible injuries associated with war. It is clear from the way the author describes these events that he is against war; but who would not. After reading these experiences one cannot help but feel that there really are no benefits of war because no matter the outcomes, numerous lives are going to lost and others are going to be horribly interrupted.

There are various things associated with war and the readers of this novel were no exception. There were times when war was considered noble, and veterans were treated as kings for their participation; they were referred as the American heroes. During these times in history, wars ended with parades that were extravagant with lovers being united. The novel by Trumbo is nothing like this, there are no heroes and there is no triumph at the end of the war. While the book is about the same eras there are evidently no heroes associated with this particular war, neither are there triumphs or reunions; the book is simply chilling and to the point about the most horrible experiences anyone can ever witness in a war. The story does not involve any romantic homecomings either as the readers would expect. The book is simply about horrific reality of war usually covered by the glitzy Hollywood renditions of warfare. The man in Trumbo’s book is fatally injured and disabled. He comes to know such isolation and loneliness no man has ever known. He is technically a living dead man who has not limbs like arms, face, legs or even a tongue. The despair in him is tremendous as he describes his past, and his present. There are notably no commas in the book. This gives the reader the impression that the thoughts emanating from Joe are never ending; they just flow and flow.

Though the war is supposed to make the world a better place by establishing democracy, one cannot help but wonder whether the outcome is worth the loss of human life and functionality among numerous soldiers who participate in the war. Through its horrible, disturbing, graphic, brutal and gruesome descriptions of how horrible a war can get, the reader is convinced that war is really not that good. One can also identify with the later argument by the author about rising against those who would want to send young people to war for any reason.

The book made a highly commendable impression on me. I enjoyed the book extremely. The author in his descriptions was clever, insightful, and told and narrated experiences and events that were gripping. The book was impressive in its stand against the war. It was noted that the book made its point without necessarily having to describe the war overly much. Actually, much of the anecdotes describing times at or near the war were almost whimsical and at times amusing in a dark way. The horror of the war described in the novel, therefore, was not in the war or the battlefields themselves, but in the results and the outcomes of the war that were isolated and terrible. The horror of the war was also implied in the fact that young people were send to war even after such terrors had been witnessed. At the end of the novel, one is left with the impression that Joe is extremely desperate to be heard or to talk to someone.

This book is an amazing piece of work for its amazing descriptions of the thoughts of a mind locked in a cruel prison- its owners dead body, tortured by the most horrible thought and mental tortures one can ever imagine- without any output or input and movement; and having been put in this condition by the most prolific dispenser of punishment and torture that is unjust- warfare. It is obvious to conclude that the book will have a great influence on the ideas many readers have on war. with the kind of horror the book associates with war, much of it which is true, I am positive that war, to the eyes of most readers of the book, will be looked at with disgust and disdain.


Trumbo, Dalton. Johnny Got His Gun. New York:  Citadel Press, 2000. Print