One story that has really meant the most to me so far is Sweetheart of the Song Tra Bong. I think that it illustrates that women who are exposed to situations like this can learn to embrace it. It shows that women can adapt. Mary Anne's experiences in Vietnam did change her drastically. Most people don't think that women can make that kind of change, but they are capable to adapt. In the beginning, having Mary Anne around was good for the platoon when she arrived. She increased the morale. She was intrigued by the war, which led to the beginning of her transformation. She told her boyfriend Mark that she has never been happier than she was being there. Like Rat says near the end of the chapter, "You come over clean and you get dirty and then afterward it's never the same. Some make it intact, some don't make it at all. For Mary Anne Bell, it seemed, Vietnam had the effect of a powerful drug: that mix of unnamed terror and unnamed pleasure that comes as the needle slips in and you know you are risking something. The endorphins start to flow, and the adrenaline, and you hold your breath and creep quietly through the moonlit nightscapes; you become intimate with danger, you're in touch with the far side of yourself, as though it's another hemisphere, and you want to string it out and go wherever the trip takes you and be host to all possibilities inside yourself. Vietnam made her glow in the dark. She wanted more, she wanted to penetrate deeper into the mystery of herself, and after a time of wanting became needing, which turned then to craving." He even tells the guys to get rid of their sexist attitude. It shows a different side of women that no one thought they really had. Maybe not as desirable, but it exists.
I think I connect best with Henry Dobbins. I enjoy the simple things and I can be very sentimental as well as being superstitious. Tim O'Brien describes him as, "always there when you need him, a believer in virtues of simplicity and directness and hard labor. Like his country, too, Dobbins was drawn to sentimentality." Dobbins would wrap his girlfriend pantyhose around his neck Not only did it remind him of his girlfriend while he was away missing her, he believed that it also protected him for harm. It also represents something more. It symbolized the only little piece of home he still had. My theory is that is why he still kept it after his girlfriend broke up with him and the reason why he still thought it would protect him. Because like he said, "The magic doesn't go away."
My favorite convention of narrative that Tim O'Brien uses is metaphor. It is so prominent throughout the book. In the time that I have been writing, I have discovered that I can be really efficient with my words. Using metaphors is an efficient way of putting the reader in a situation, giving the reader a sensation, conveying emotion to the reader. Tim O'Brien uses metaphor to describe Henry Dobbins: "he liked the memories that this inspired; he sometimes slept with the stockings up against his face, the way an infant sleeps with a flannel blanket, secure and peaceful." It conveys a calm feeling of serenity, the peacefulness that he felt when he had his good luck charm with him.
In the chapter "Notes", I found one passage that really intrigued me. "In ordinary conversation I never spoke much about the war, certainly not in detail, and yet ever since my return I had been talking about it virtually nonstop through my writing. Telling stories seemed a natural, inevitable process, like clearing the throat. Partly catharsis, partly communication, it was a way of grabbing people by the shirt and explain exactly what had happened to me, how I'd allowed myself to get dragged into a wrong war, all the mistakes I made, all the terrible things I had seen and done. I did not look on my work as therapy, and still don't. Yet when I received Norman Bowker's letter, it occurred to me that the act of writing had led me through a swirl of memories that might otherwise have ended in paralysis or worse. By telling stories, you objectify your own experience. You separate it from yourself. You pin down certain truths. You make up others. You start sometimes with an incident that truly happened, like the night in the shit field, and you carry it forward by inventing incidents that did not in fact occur but that nonetheless help to clarify and explain." Here there are things that I agree and disagree on. I do think writing about our experiences is natural process, but for me writing is my therapy. Being able to communicate our experiences, to put it in words, is probably one of the most difficult things we could ever do. I have to objectify my own experience to help me deal with all the things that I have been through. Sometimes when I go back and look at what I have written in the past, it almost seems like a lifetime ago when I wrote it. This passage is something that really spoke to me when I was reading The Things They Carried.