Gender Swaps in Sweetheart of the Song Tra Bong
Innocense has a potential to change. While we are innocent in the life that we lead, a war can take it away in a flash of an eye. Mary Anne and Fossie both undergo stereotypical role changes after they enter the Vietnam War. These so called "gender swaps" had a major effect on the lives from that moment on. The story "Sweetheart" vividly displays how a war, such as the Vietnam War, can be a life changing event.
A war can destruct purity. When Mary Anne is first introduced to the story, she is an "innocent blonde, just barely out of high school"(90). She fears getting her hands dirty and portrays a very girly attitude. She is wearing a "pink sweater", which is a very preppy look according to our society's stereotype. Also, pink is a color for a girl. Our society labels gender as "pink for a girl, and blue for a boy", when a child is first born. Generally, girls care too much about their appearance, and how they look. They always want to look pretty. She had absolutely no idea what was really going on when she first arrived to Vietnam. To her, the scenery of a battle zone was like an art exhibit, which hit her curiosity.(95) The smile on her face seemed so innocent and pure, that the thought of her facing the truth would litterally kill her youth. However, she was very observant while seeing her surroundings. As time passed, she became fascinated with the war and its challenges. She now started to undergo change.
Once living in the battle zone enviroment, Mary Anne became a completely different person. She became fascinated with guns, knives, and other war weapons. Her curiosity came to good use. Unlike in the beginning of the story, she started escaping with the Green Berets at nights, and sleeping on the cold ground. She now no longer cares about her appearance or her nails, because she chops them short. She stopped wearing jewelry, and instead of make-up, there is now charcoal on her face (98). The way she now presented herself versus the way she arrived to Vietnam undergone drastic change. Her voice became low, and a new sense of confidence filled her soul. She now presented herself as one of the soldiers. The irony is that at the time of the Vietnam War, only men were allowed on the battlefields.