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On the Rainy River Essay

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Life can bring unexpected events that individuals might not be prepared to confront. This was the case of O’Brien in the story, “On the Rainy River” from the book The Things They Carried. As an author and character O’Brien describes his experiences about the Vietnam War. In the story, he faces the conflict of whether he should or should not go to war after being drafted. He could not imagine how tough fighting must be, without knowing how to fight, and the reason for such a war. In addition, O’Brien is terrified of the idea of leaving his family, friends and everything he loves behind. He decides to run away from his responsibility with the society. However, a feeling of shame and embarrassment makes him go to war. O’Brien considers himself a coward for doing something he does not agree with; on the other hand, thinking about the outcome of his decision makes him a brave man. Therefore, an individual that considers the consequences of his acts is nobler than a war hero.
The Vietnam War was a conflict that many people did not comprehend. In fact, the war was atrocious and bloody. According to The Vietnam War: a History in Documents, 58,000 US soldier died and more than 700,000 came back with physical and emotional marks (Young, Fitzgerald & Grunfeld 147). For many Americans this war was meaningless. In the same way, O’Brien admits, “American war in Vietnam seemed to me wrong; certain blood was being shed for uncertain reason” (40). O’Brien believes the war was not significance. Furthermore, the lack of logic in the matter makes him confused about going to war. That’s why, he does not understand why he was sent to fight a war for which causes and effects were uncertain. The author continues by saying, “I was too good for...


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...hermore, going to war was an act of cowardice. He had to put aside his morals and principles and fight a war he did not believe in.
Overall, the author showed us the courageous and coward s acts of O’Brien the character. The fact that he was a coward made him do a heroic act. O’Brien made the valiant decision to go to war. It would have been easier and cowardly to jump and swim away from all his fears. However he decided to turn back, and fight for something he did not believe in. Thinking about the consequences of running away makes him a hero. He went to war not because he wanted to fight for his country, but for his own freedom. Either choice he could have made would take some kind of courage to carry out. Going to war required some sort of fearlessness. In other words, running away from the law would have been brave; but going to war was even tougher.



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