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Breaking Point For Men in Phillip Caputo's A Rumor of War Essay

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War is an entity that not only physically tears apart soldiers and countries, but also a force that shatters soldiers and civilians psychologically. The arduous physical conditions, the close proximity to death, and the hysteria in difficult situations play on soldiers’ minds and slowly push them to a breaking point. In Philip Caputo’s A Rumor of War, we see the effects of war and the conditions of war as told by 2nd Lieutenant Philip Caputo. In the novel, we saw a steady buildup of anxiety and confusion as the soldiers were faced with an invisible enemy and struggled with the mixed signals from those in command. This steady buildup developed into a psychological degradation that converted the soldiers into cold killers who could not control their propensity to kill the Vietnamese, whether or not they were enemy forces. Such conditions forced soldiers into “untenable combat situations” where they acted ruthlessly under the duress. This hysteria was only amplified by the lies and confusing signals of those in command. As displayed by Philip Caputo, soldiers in this time were deeply affected by the war of attrition that was the Vietnam War. The mundane, strident battles sunk the soldiers into depression and forced them into a submissive hopelessness. This pushed the soldiers towards precarious combat situations and dampened their ability to utilize reason over savagery in combat. The lies and ambiguity of those in command and the psychological toll of the war forced the soldiers into indefensible situations and broke down their moral judgment.
“A man saw the heights and depths of human behavior in Vietnam, all manner of violence and horrors…” (Caputo 4) that disrupted and destructed a soldier’s ambitious notions of war with which th...


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... war to the falsifications of the commanders, the soldiers are backed into a corner where their submission wreaks havoc on their mental state. Psychologically, the soldiers are devastated by the Vietnam War Theater. Viet Cong forces hidden in the vastness of the jungle and integrated in the South Vietnam population made soldiers feel powerless and defenseless. The cloaked enemy compromised the soldiers’ idea of security and kept them in constant fear of death. This was aggressively amplified by the commanders’ fabrications that heightened the insecurities and confusion among the soldiers. Treacherous war conditions and fabrications of the high command devastated the psychological state of the soldiers and forced them into indefensible situations where judgment was compromised.



Works Cited

Caputo, Philip. A Rumor of War. New York City: Henry Holt and, 1996. Print.


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