Naming of Parts

Naming of Parts Literary Elements

Speaker or Narrator, and Point of View

The poem's speaker is a seasoned army officer teaching army recruits about the parts of a rifle.

Form and Meter

The poem is made up of five stanzas with six lines each, known is sextets. It has no consistent meter.

Metaphors and Similes

The speakers uses simile to describe nature in phrases like "Japonica / Glistens like coral in all of the neighboring gardens."

Alliteration and Assonance

The line 'This is the lower sling swivel...' uses alliterative "S" sounds, which repeat throughout the stanza. The phrase '...whose use you will see' uses assonant "u" sounds.


Ironically, the speaker continues to try to educate his listeners about gun parts that they do not even have on their own rifles. More broadly, the poem reveals the irony that, while the speaker and the military aim for a streamlined and orderly approach, they are actually so rigid as to become nonsensical, whereas nature follows a more orderly and sensible pattern.




Japan during World War II


Harsh and commanding, interwoven with appreciative and dreamlike

Protagonist and Antagonist

The protagonists are the army recruits, while the antagonist is the military itself, represented by the speaker

Major Conflict

The poem's major conflict is between man-made violence and the natural world: the speaker and soldiers must choose whom to align themselves with.


The poem's climax comes in its fourth stanza, when the speaker compares the movement of bees to the movement of a gun's breech.


The poem's first line, which states that the day's agenda will be the "naming of parts," foreshadows the poem's remaining content.


By reducing the use of a gun to a series of bloodless mechanics, the entire poem uses understatement, constantly suggesting but eliding violence and bloodshed.


The poem alludes to World War II, and especially to the weaponry used in that war.

Metonymy and Synecdoche

The gun is evoked only through synecdoche, as each of its parts are named one at a time.


The speaker personifies flower blossoms in the lines, "... The blossoms / Are fragile and motionless, never letting anyone see / Any of them using their finger.'
He also personifies branches in the lines "The branches / Hold in the gardens their silent, eloquent gestures"




The word 'flick' is onomatopoetic.