Transformation in Sweetheart of the Song Tra Bong
In Sweetheart of the Song Tra Bong, Tim O'Brien gives a dynamic example of how even the deep roots of ones culture can be modified. The focus is on the young lady, whose boyfriend manages to have her shipped over to Vietnam from the U.S. She is then thrown into a completely foreign culture that thousands of American GI's were experiencing. This change in culture affected the strongest and most skilled of America's ground troops. The affects on a civilian are almost unfathomable.
The "sweetheart" of the story is a young, American girl whose description identifies her as the stereotypical girl of the late 60's early 70's. "A tall, big-boned blonde,/long legs and blue eyes and a complexion like strawberry ice cream. Very friendly, too."(p. 93). However, this apparently attractive appearance and sweet, innocent demeanor would change over the next few weeks.
At first "she liked to roam around the compound asking questions" (95). She learned many useful skills by "spending time with the ARVN's out along the perimeter, picking up little phrases of Vietnamese, learning how to cook rice over a can of Sterno, how to eat with her hands." (95), she had the mindset "I'm here,/ I might as well learn something." (96). Then slowly, she began to become more active in the activities of daily life in Vietnam. "At the beginning of her second week she began to pester Mark Fossie to take her down to the village" (96). The environment began to take hold of her and slowly draw her out and away from her conventional, civilian way of life.
"At the end of the second week, when four casualties came in, Mary Anne wasn't afraid to get her hands bloody./ She learned how to clip an artery and p...
... middle of paper ...
Almost a complete metamorphosis from the innocent American school girl to this highly skilled stealthy creature that could live off of the land without support from anything or anyone. "She had crossed to the other side. She was part of the land. She was wearing her culottes, her pink sweater, and a necklace of human tongues. She was dangerous. She was ready for the kill." (116).
Going from "white bread" America to the bush of Vietnam is a drastic change. Two completely different worlds. Mary Anne comes in as this assumingly frail child of American conventionalism and the story ends with her becoming the ideal killing machine. This shows how culture can change a person. During the Vietnam War, this change took place to thousands of soldiers. They were not born to kill, but to live. They had to learn to kill. Just as Mary Anne did.
Need Writing Help?
Get feedback on grammar, clarity, concision and logic instantly.Check your paper »
- In “The Sweetheart of Song Tra Bong,” Rat Kiley recounts the time when Mark Fossie brought in his girlfriend, Mary Anne Bell, from Ohio to Nam. Mary Anne is a curious and very friendly seventeen-year- old girl who just graduated from high school. She constantly asks questions about the war. Tension grows between Mary Anne and Mark when Mary Anne starts to become more involved in the war. She helps with taking care of the injured soldiers and learns how to operate an M-16. Mark suggests that the two of them go back home, but Mary Anne refuses.... [tags: mari anne bell, change, dress]
654 words (1.9 pages)
- In the short story, “Sweetheart of the Song Tra Bong,” by Tim O’Brien, the author shows that no matter what the circumstances were, the people that were exposed to the Vietnam War were affected greatly. A very young girl named Mary Anne Bell was brought by a boyfriend to the war in Vietnam. When she arrived she was a bubbly young girl, and after a few weeks, she was transformed into a hard, mean killer. Mark Fossie decided he was going to sneak his girlfriend onto his base in Vietnam. When she arrived, Rat Kiley described her like this, “A tall big-boned blonde.... [tags: essays research papers]
753 words (2.2 pages)
- Desertion in Sweetheart of the Song Tra Bong The "Sweetheart of the Song Tra Bong" is a story of many things when looked at from the right perspective. The validity of the story actually has nothing to do with its main purpose, which is to explain how Vietnam changed the American soldiers who were a part of the conflict. O'Brien's purpose is to inform his readers of the effect that Vietnam had on American GI's. Told by Rat Kiley, the "Sweetheart of the Song Tra Bong" can be seen as a touching love story; sweethearts united even during a war.... [tags: Things They Carried Essays]
607 words (1.7 pages)
- Sweetheart of the Song of Tra Bong as Metaphor The Vietnam War is a strange and unexplainable event in American history. The controversies surrounding the American involvement in Vietnam and the need for Vietnam veterans to tell their stories of the war are prevalent in the post-Vietnam culture of America. "The stories that will last forever are those that swirl back and forth across the border between trivia and bedlam, the mad and the mundane"(89). The story of the sweetheart of the Song of Tra Bong explains this quote of the veteran stories never make exact sense, but they are stories from a war that never quite made exact sense either.... [tags: Things They Carried Essays]
1164 words (3.3 pages)
- Transformation in Sweetheart of the Song Tra Bong In Sweetheart of the Song Tra Bong, Tim O'Brien gives a dynamic example of how even the deep roots of ones culture can be modified. The focus is on the young lady, whose boyfriend manages to have her shipped over to Vietnam from the U.S. She is then thrown into a completely foreign culture that thousands of American GI's were experiencing. This change in culture affected the strongest and most skilled of America's ground troops. The affects on a civilian are almost unfathomable.... [tags: Things They Carried Essays]
811 words (2.3 pages)
- Metamorphosis in Sweetheart of the Song Tra Bong The story of the "Sweetheart of the Song Tra Bong" is no typical Vietnam war story. It is a story that involves no bloods, guts or glory. This story isn't so much about the physical damage caused by war as much as this story is about the emotional changes that effect not only the males. This is a story that with it's elaboration and ornamentation shows the destruction of innocence. This story is about an impossible that came true. The story in its simplest form involves two main characters and the storyteller, Rat Kiley, a well-known truth stretcher.... [tags: Things They Carried Essays]
733 words (2.1 pages)
- Gender, Power, and Isolation in Sweetheart of the Song Tra Bong The cultural studies approach to an open text allows the reader to focus on the culture of a specified society. He/she can study the use of social effects and construction of reality on the people or land. "According to the Handbook of Critical Approaches to Literature "cultural studies involve scrutinizing a cultural phenomenon and drawing conclusions about the changes in that phenomenon over a period of time" (Geurin 240)." When utilizing the cultural studies approach, the reader must search the whole text for an overall range of situations and reasons why culture would shape a society.... [tags: Things They Carried Essays]
1051 words (3 pages)
- The Story of Sweetheart of the Song of Tra Bong: The Use of Setting Where does the story of Sweetheart of the Song Tra Bong take place. Upon reading the story, one would first assume that it takes place in Vietnam. Upon further examination, however, it becomes quite evident that it really takes place inside Rat Kiley's head. This isn't to declare the story false; instead, one should examine the influence and literary freedom that Rat flexes upon the truth. "For Rat Kiley… facts were formed by sensation, not the other way around." (101) The story occurs in two separate but equally chaotic places: Vietnam, and Rat's head.... [tags: essays research papers]
1548 words (4.4 pages)
- 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.... [tags: Things They Carried Essays]
881 words (2.5 pages)
- 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).... [tags: Things They Carried Essays]
750 words (2.1 pages)