These opening lines reveal the speaker's devotion to order and authoritativeness, as well as to compartmentalization. Rather than address the gun as a single object capable of exerting harm and creating an irreversible impact, the speaker breaks the gun down into as many aspects as possible. He does so by splitting it into its parts and naming each of its discrete sections, but also by splitting the actions surrounding the gun into as many different segments as possible, from cleaning the firearm to dealing with the aftermath of firing it. Through this segmenting, the speaker avoids the potentially upsetting effects of the gun—namely, its capacity to maim and kill.
Hold in the gardens their silent, eloquent gestures,
Which in our case we have not got.
Through personification here and in several other moments, the speaker gives human-like traits to inanimate objects in nature. Ironically and enigmatically, he notes that the humans present actually lack these traits, implying that nature itself is more human or alive than the soldiers. This plays into the author's critique of war as a dehumanizing process. Furthermore, personification implies alikeness and interconnectedness more generally—the opposite of the fragmented approach the speaker takes when describing the parts of the firearm. Overall, therefore, this personification suggests that aliveness, humanity, empathy, and any sense of interconnectedness are all destroyed by war.
like the bolt,
And the breech, and the cocking-piece, and the point of balance,
Which in our case we have not got;
The speaker frequently points out one part of the rifle before clarifying that no such part actually exists on the model his audience is using. In this case, the missing piece, the "point of balance" (a specific part of a gun, likely referring to the hinge pin which connects the barrel to the action) may connote symbolically a lack of emotional or mental balance. More broadly, the speaker's insistence on pointing out parts that are irrelevant to his audience suggests a rigidity and a scriptedness in his attitude: as much as he enforces arbitrary military hierarchy, he is also subject to it. Unable or unwilling to act independently, the speaker continues to recite his list without modification.
Naming of Parts Questions and Answers
The Question and Answer section for Naming of Parts is a great
resource to ask questions, find answers, and discuss the novel.