Tuesday, October 20, 2015

Exploration 6- Jessica Stafford

     The story that has meant the most to me so far is Sweetheart of the Song Tra Bong. This story has meant the most because it is shocking to the reader as the author uses Mary Anne Bell, a sweet innocent girl, as a symbol for each of the soldiers that went to Vietnam at a young age as innocent boys but lost their innocence after being changed by the atmosphere surrounding the war. Mary Anne Bell arrived in Vietnam as an innocent girl who couldn't imagine being in the war but eventually becomes so encompassed in the war that her feelings change and she refuses to return home. Tim O'Brien recalls, "What happened to her, Rat said, was what happened to all of them. You come over clean and you get dirty and then afterward it's never the same"(109). Each of the men also arrived in Vietnam as innocent boys who were forced into war through the draft and later their lives were greatly affected by the war.
     The character I connect the best with so far is Kiowa.  O'Brien states, "Kiowa always took along his New Testament and a pair of moccasins for silence"(9). I connect best to Kiowa because throughout the book he has been the one who kind of just watches what the other guys do and he also consistently sticks to his personal beliefs throughout the entire story. I relate to this because in most situations I tend to be more quiet and just observe what is happening. I also have always followed my own personal beliefs and have not let others adjust them.
     The convention of narrative that I think O'Brien uses frequently that stands out is personification. When describing the grief that Mark  Fossie felt about Mary Anne joining the Green Berets he explains that "the grief took him by the throat and squeezed and would not let go"(100). Through personification, he really demonstrates to readers how many different emotions actually affected the soldiers.
     A passage that struck me was when Tim was describing the person he killed. He recalls, "His jaw was in his throat, his upper lip and teeth were gone, his one eye shut, his other eye was a star-shaped hole, his eyebrows were thin and arched like a woman's, his nose was undamaged, there was a slight tear at the lobe of one ear, his clean black hair was swept upward into a cowlick at the rear of the skull, his forehead was lightly freckled, his fingernails were clean, the skin at his left cheek was peeled back in three ragged strips, his right cheek was smooth and hairless, there was a butterfly on his chin..."(118). This passage struck me because it begins by describing in vivid detail how gruesome the dead man's body is but then states that there is a butterfly on his chin which is typically viewed as a beautiful object. This passage is described in great detail which enables the reader to imagine the man's body and take time to consider the meaning behind the contrast Tim is making.


  1. Tim describing the man he killed struck me also. His use of sensory details in the passage you used are unbelievable. I think that what he was trying to tell us by giving so many details is veterans don't forget the things they saw or did and they still have to find a way to get through it years after it happened.

  2. Your quote that you used from the story "Sweetheart of the Song Tra Bong" also has meant the most to me. Also like you said I believe that the story is just a symbol of what it was like being a soldier in Vietnam. The soldier's come in as young and innocent men just like Mary Anne. The soldiers also become soldiers through experiencing tragedy just like Mary Anne and most of the soldiers either get killed in combat or are dead emotionally just like Mary Anne. As I read further in the book I thought if this story was even a true one. I learned that O'Brien often uses stories that are not true and I believe that this story was just a way to get the reader to believe that anything can happen in war.


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