Tim O'Brian's How to Tell a True War Story of the Things They Carried Essay

Tim O'Brian's How to Tell a True War Story of the Things They Carried Essay

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The Tim O’Brian’s short story, “Sweetheart of the Song Tra Bong”, Mary Anne Bell is a rare illustration of the innocence that is lost. In her attractive sweater, unblemished pants and free spirited attitude, no one could seem more faultless. She was the definition of a true young American teenager or at least that’s what they all assumed at first. In the beginning of the story, she is something noticeable to both the soldiers and the reader: she was expected to be a normal American girl who wanted nothing more than a family. The story of her mutation into something different, a killer, mirrors the transformation of most of the soldiers. It is a well-known fact that war changes people; there is an innocence that is forever lost. They go to war as young men and return from war as thirsty butchers. The sweetheart of the song Tra bong is not about the war or Mary Anne but it is about how Mary Anne embraced and adopted to her surrounding while everyone else ignored every single detail. Although Mary Anne felt at peace with herself and transformation, she was also disconnected from the real world.
Mary Anne was smuggled into Vietnam by her boyfriend Mark Fossie to visit him, her arrival in Vietnam brought a touch of home to everyone. She was a beautiful, innocent 17 year-old American blonde, she had on “white culottes and a sexy pink sweater” (O’Brian 91). Her bubbly personality, joyful smile, and good looks not only pleased Mark but also a good morale of all the other soldiers. For the first two weeks, the two love birds were stuck together like as if they needed each other to breathe. “Mary Anne and Fossie had been sweethearts since grammar school and since sixth grade on they had known for a fact that someday they would get marr...


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... Mary Anne’s journey, however, led to her being consumed by ambiguous darkness. If “a thing can happen and be a total lie; and another thing may not happen and be truer than the truth” (80), then maybe the final truth about Mary Anne was that she really did “know exactly who she was” (106). The ending of Mary Anne’s story could have been beautiful and civil to her, but ugly and chaotic to you, and that was her liberation. At the end of the story Mary Anne walked into the mountains and did not come. It literally means that she became part with the land. She conformed and never looked back at the one she loved.

Works Cited

"An Analysis of Tim O'Brien's How to Tell a True War Story of The Things They Carried." HubPages. N.p., n.d. Web. 18 Apr. 2014.
“O'Brien, Tim. The Things They Carried: A Work of Fiction. Prince Frederick, MD: RB Large Print, 2003. Print.

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