Essay on Shame And Its Impact On The Vietnam War

Essay on Shame And Its Impact On The Vietnam War

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5. The concept of shame has had a profound impact in the lives of these soldiers in the Vietnam war, as shame is both what brought most of these soldiers to the Vietnam war and is what keeps them there. When O’Brien states, “I survived, but it 's not a happy ending. I was a coward. I went to the war” it can be logically inferred that the concept of shame both drove him to the act of heroism as well as the act of stupidity (61). O’Brien going to war depicts the act of heroism because he decided to overcome his fears, and decided to fight for his country’s reputation and honor, by risking his own life – the most precarious gamble. On the contrary, the concept of shame also illustrates O’Brien’s stupidity in his decision of going to war because he let his shame and fear win out over his principle – being a pacifist and against the aggressive war. Therefore, according to O’Brien the relationship between shame and courage is paradoxical because he thought he was giving up his courage, by agreeing to enroll in the Vietnam War, which was shameful to him; furthermore, this relationship was also evident when he called himself a coward for going to war. Hence, O 'Brien states that courage is the opposite of shame, an act of self interest, since courage is used to help others, while shame is motivated by an ulterior motive.
6. “How to Tell a True War Story” passes judgment on the very act of storytelling, and states that there is an authentic way and an inauthentic way of telling war stories. Hence, according to O’Brien a war story is true if it is: a perennial absurdist story, a story that could not possibly have happened, and a story that is not moral. A specific example from the text that is classified as a true war story is that of a wa...


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...re the simple acts of remembering that kept them alive: “That 's what a story does. The bodies are animated. You make the dead talk” (232). This theme of preservation via the medium of stories, which is the primary theme of the novel, is exemplified by story of Linda, in which O 'Brien employs the power of storytelling and memory to keep people alive: “Stories can save us. I 'm forty-three years old, and a writer now, and even still, right here, I keep dreaming Linda alive...They 're all dead. But in a story, which is a kind of dreaming, the dead sometimes smile and sit up and return to the world.”(225). Finally, when Linda proclaims “Timmy, stop crying. It doesn’t matter” she essentially consoles him by saying it doesn 't matter that she 's dead, and that physical death doesn 't mean true death because she still lives not only in his memory but also in his stories.

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