Society's Beliefs Revealed in Sweetheart of the Song Tra Bong
One steamy, humid afternoon in 1961 the first United States helicopter landed in Vietnam dispensing immature boys onto the soggy marshlands. Some would return to that same helicopter one day, whether it be wrapped in a poncho about to be taken to the morgue, lying strapped to a stretcher about to report to the hospital, or standing tall holding their heads high because they were about to return to their homelands. Tim O'Brien, one of the returning solders, put together short stories pertaining to the war and how he viewed it as well as the America's society. While reading O'Brien's stories, it would be more effective if the reader applied the New Historicist Approach taking in to consideration his and American society's beliefs, habits of thought, and biases about concepts during the 1960s. Afterwards the true image of women in combat will be revealed, the mocking of deceitful war stories, and the guilty feelings of the returning solider.
Women of the 1960s usually took the role of being a mother to her children, innocent child to her parents, and a delicate possession to men. In "Sweetheart of the Song Tra Bong," O'Brien describes Mary Anne Bell, a female Greenie in the making, as being: "This cute blonde-just a kid, just barely out of high school...wearing white culottes and this sexy pink sweater" (90). Through the text it is easy to uncover the direct feelings of women. The words in which O'Brien uses to describe Mary Anne, makes it sound as though she is too delicate and precious to be in a place such as Vietnam during war. Not only does this express in certain terms how O'Brien feels about women in the war, it also can be related to the thoughts of A...
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...rs were feeling remorse for their behaviors; in the United States various protests against the American soldiers killing innocent people were in progress at the same time. All together, "The Man I Killed" can too be related historically to the numerous protest that were being held all over the country because of the deaths of innocent people in Vietnam.
O'Brien's allows his text to represent the thoughts of his views as well as the American view about guilt felt soliders, women in combat, and his distaste of those that deceitfully create war stories. If these connections are not apparent it is must easier once the historicist approach has been applied because it allows one to decipher the thoughts of a particular society at that time frame. This is because it is almost as if the author soaks in the feelings of that time to express how society should operate.
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