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The Yellow Birds: A Novel Study Guide & Plot Summary

Kevin Powers
This Study Guide consists of chapter summaries, quotes, character analysis, themes, and more - everything you need to sharpen your knowledge of The Yellow Birds.
This section contains 324 words
(approx. 2 pages at 300 words per page)
Purchase our The Yellow Birds: A Novel Study Guide

The Yellow Birds: A Novel Summary & Study Guide Description

The Yellow Birds: A Novel Summary & Study Guide includes comprehensive information and analysis to help you understand the book. This study guide contains the following sections:

This detailed literature summary also contains Topics for Discussion on The Yellow Birds: A Novel by Kevin Powers.

Plot Summary

The Yellow Birds is a novel by Kevin Powers which details the experiences of Private John Bartle in the Iraq War in 2004, and its aftermath.

When the novel begins, Bartle and his friend, Murphy, are fighting in and around Al Tafar, Iraq. Bartle, back before their unit was deployed, had promised Murphy's mother that he would watch out for Murphy and bring him back home. Sergeant Sterling asserts that this is a stupid thing to do, a stupid promise to have made. The war grinds on, and bit by bit, Murphy becomes more and more disillusioned, until he wants to go home. Ultimately, following a bombardment and the death of a pretty nurse, Murphy strips himself naked and walks around the city in a trance, where he is captured, killed, and mutilated by insurgents. His body is later found by Bartle and Sterling, who don't want Murphy to return to the States in such a condition. They therefore solicit help from a hermit who helps them bring Murphy's body to the river to dump. Sterling then kills the hermit, and later kills himself. Bartle pens a fake letter to Mrs. Murphy, pretending to be Murphy.

At home, Bartle suffers from post traumatic stress syndrome, and is depressed, sleeps a lot, and drinks beer. His attempts to return to normalcy with his best friend, Luke, don't work. Bartle's mother is deeply worried about him, especially when the Criminal Investigation Division calls for Bartle. Bartle soon after moves out, hoping to avoid the investigation he knows is coming. Ultimately, the CID tracks down Bartle, and he is arrested. He is imprisoned for three years for what happened. During that time, Murphy's mother comes to visit Bartle, to seek to understand what it was that happened to her son, and so Bartle tells her. When Bartle is released from prison, he buys a small cabin in the Blue Ridge Mountains, and goes to live there.

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This section contains 324 words
(approx. 2 pages at 300 words per page)
Purchase our The Yellow Birds: A Novel Study Guide
The Yellow Birds: A Novel from BookRags and Gale's For Students Series. ©2005-2006 Thomson Gale, a part of the Thomson Corporation. All rights reserved.
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