When Mark confronts Mary Anne after she returns from the ambush with the Green Berets, O’Brien uses disturbing imagery to describe the inside of the hootch. The room’s smell has a “topmost scent of joss sticks and incense” (104), but also has “deeper and much more powerful stench [that is] thick and numbing…a mix of blood and scorched hair and excrement and the sweet-sour odor of moldering flesh—the stink of ...
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...with] no emotion in [them]” (105). Before the coming to the war, Mary Anne is sweet, innocent, and curious. But now, she has matured and looks upon the world indifferently.
After experiencing the war first-hand, Mary Anne finds her place in the world—in Vietnam with the Green Berets. When she first arrives at the camp, she is a young, innocent girl who does not know anything about the war; however, after staying at the camp for a few weeks and learning about the war, she loses her innocence. Mary Anne’s loss of innocence is reflected in the disturbing imagery used to describe the smell of the Special Forces hootch and her necklace of human tongues. Mary Anne’s true personality is shown when she is chanting along with tribal music in the Special Army hootch. She is no longer an innocent girl but is an experienced young woman with a burning passion for the war.
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