The story that has meant the most to me so far is "Sweetheart of Song Tra Bong" because it shows how people changed because of Vietnam. People went to Vietnam one way and came back a different person. When Mary Anne Bell went to Vietnam, she was a soft, sweet girl who just wanted to be with her boyfriend and learn the ways of Vietnam. After she started spending time there and started going on ambushes with the six Green Berets, she changed. Rat Kiley talks about how people change in the book. In the story, on page 109 in my book, he says "what happened to her was what happened to all of them. You come over clean and you get dirty and then afterward it's never the same." and I think that is exactly what Vietnam did to people. It scarred them and they could not go back to how they were before the war. It made them someone else like it did to her.
One convention of narrative I think O'Brien uses extremely, extremely well is sense detail. He is very descriptive and at several points in the novel, it seems as is the reader can actually see or feel what the characters feel. An example of this that really stuck out to me was also in "Sweetheart of Song Tra Bong" when Fossie finds Mary Anne after she hasd disappeared. He heard her singing and went into the camp the Green Berets were at and saw her. On page 105, there are a few instances of sense details. O'Brien writes describing the scene, "Thick and numbing, like an animal's den, a mix of blood and scorched hair and excrement and the sweet-sour odor of moldering flesh - the stink of the kill." He writes describing Mary Anne's tongue necklace, "Elongated and narrow, like pieces of blackened leather, the tongues were threaded along a length of copper wire, one tongue overlapping the next, the tips curled upward as if caught in the final shrill syllable." Both of these descriptions awake the senses. You can almost smell or picture what is going on in your head.
The character I connect with best so far is Norman Bowker. When he was first introduced, we learned that he carried a diary with him, which, in my opinion, shows that he likes to express his thoughts and feelings, but maybe just not out loud. Then, later in the novel, more specifically in "Speaking of Courage," he is driving around doing nothing but thinking. Thinking, imagining, and taking in the scenery. He was reliving the time in the field when Kiowa died and he wanted to talk about it. He almost did when he was at the A&W, but he couldn't do it. In this story I really related to him because I know how it feels. I'm the same way; I like to think things over and over in my head, but in the end that's where they stay. I would much, much rather keep things in my head or write them in a journal than talk about them.
One passage that particularly stood out to me and struck me was on page 20 in my book, in the story "The Things They Carried." "They carried their reputations. They carried the soldier's greatest fear, which was the fear of blushing. Men killed, and died, because they were embarrassed not to. It was what had brought them to the war in the first place, nothing positive, no dreams of glory or honor, just to avoid the blush of dishonor. They died so as not to die of embarrassment. They crawled into tunnels and walked point and advanced under fire. Each morning, despite the unknowns, they made their legs move. They endured." This particular passage struck me because of how true it is - not just for soldiers, but for people in general. It's completely crazy to think of some of the things people do, even if they don't want to, simply to impress other people and protect their reputation. People care so much about how other people see them, that they will risk their life and do things they don't agree with or don't like just so people see them better.