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English 3 Semester 2 Final

Terms in this set (67)

Nick Carraway, the protagonist, has recently moved from the midwest to get his career started in New York. He lives on the island of West Egg (which is poorer) across from East Egg (richer) where his pompous friends Tom and Daisy live. They gossip and party a lot, and Tom is cheating on Daisy with a lady named Myrtle Wilson. Everyone knows except for Daisy and Mr. Wilson.
Nick lives next door to a mysterious man named Gatsby, who throws legendary parties, but no one knows anything about him. Nick becomes friends with him and learns that he is in love with Daisy. They almost married when they were younger, but he was too poor and decided to wait. He gets with Daisy again, and they have an affair.
Tom is suspicious of this, and he tries to prove that Gatsby is not who he seems. Daisy becomes enraged at Tom's condescending, superior, chauvinist attitude, and says that she will leave Tom for Gatsby. However, she then finds out that Gatsby is not the respected pharmacist he claims to be. He gets his money through bootlegging.
Daisy then refuses to leave Tom for him, and makes him drive her home. Daisy is at the wheel when the car hits someone- coincidentally, Myrtle Wilson, Tom's other woman.
Mr. Wilson discovers his wife's affair, and asks around about the car that hit her (it is bright yellow and immediately recognizable). So, thinking that Gatsby hit her, Mr. Wilson goes to Gatsby's house and shoots him, and then shoots himself.
Gatsby dies alone, because no one shows up to his funeral except for Nick and his father. Tom and Daisy go to Chicago and Nick never sees them again.
The protagonist, who is named Tim O'Brien, begins by describing an event that occurred in the middle of his Vietnam experience. "The Things They Carried" catalogs the variety of things his fellow soldiers in the Alpha Company brought on their missions. Several of these things are intangible, including guilt and fear, while others are specific physical objects, including matches, morphine, M-16 rifles, and M&M's candy.
Throughout the collection, the same characters reappear in various stories. The first member of the Alpha Company to die is Ted Lavender, a "grunt," or low-ranking soldier, who deals with his anxiety about the war by taking tranquilizers and smoking marijuana. Lavender is shot in the head on his way back from going to the bathroom, and his superior, Lieutenant Jimmy Cross, blames himself for the tragedy. When Lavender is shot, Cross is distracting himself with thoughts of Martha, a college crush. It is revealed in "Love" that Cross's feelings for Martha, whom he dated once before leaving for Vietnam, were never reciprocated, and that even twenty years after the war, his guilt over Lavender's death remains.
In "On the Rainy River," the narrator, O'Brien, explains the series of events that led him to Vietnam in the first place. He receives his draft notice in June of 1968, and his feelings of confusion drive him north to the Canadian border, which he contemplates crossing so that he will not be forced to fight in a war in which he doesn't believe. Sitting in a rowboat with the proprietor of the Tip Top Lodge, where he stays, O'Brien decides that his guilt about avoiding the war and fear of disappointing his family are more important than his political convictions. He soon leaves, going first back home to Worthington, Minnesota and later to Vietnam.
In addition to Ted Lavender, a few other members of the Alpha Company are killed during their mission overseas, including Curt Lemon, who is killed when he steps on a rigged mortar round. Though O'Brien is not close to Lemon, in "The Dentist," he tells a story of how Lemon, who faints before a routine checkup with an army-issued dentist, tries to save face by insisting that a perfectly good tooth be pulled. Lee Strunk, another member of the company, dies from injuries he sustains by stepping on a landmine. In "Friends," O'Brien remembers that before Strunk was fatally hurt, Strunk and Dave Jensen had made a pact that if either man were irreparably harmed, the other man would see that he was quickly killed. However, when Strunk is actually hurt, he begs Jensen to spare him, and Jensen complies. Instead of being upset by the news of his friend's swift death en route to treatment, Jensen is relieved.
The death that receives the most attention in The Things They Carried is that of Kiowa, a much-loved member of the Alpha Company and one of O'Brien's closest friends. In "Speaking of Courage," the story of Kiowa's death is relayed in retrospect through the memory of Norman Bowker, years after the war. As Bowker drives around a lake in his Iowa hometown, he thinks that he failed to save Kiowa, who was killed when a mortar round hit and caused him to sink headfirst into a marshy field. O'Brien realizes that he has dealt with his guilt over Kiowa's death differently than Norman Bowker in "Notes." Just before the end of the war, O'Brien receives a long letter from Bowker that says he hasn't found a way to make life meaningful after the war. O'Brien resolves to tell Bowker's story, and the story of Kiowa's death, in order to negotiate his own feelings of guilt and hollowness.
Like "Love" and "Notes," several of O'Brien's stories are told from a perspective twenty years after the Vietnam War, when he is a forty-three-year-old writer living in Massachusetts. Exposure to the guilt of old friends like Jimmy Cross and Norman Bowker prompts him to write stories in order to understand what they were going through. But two stories, "The Man I Killed" and "Ambush," are written so that O'Brien can confront his own guilt over killing a man with a grenade outside the village of My Khe. In "The Man I Killed," O'Brien imagines the life of his victim, from his childhood to the way things would have turned out for him had O'Brien not spotted him on a path and thrown a grenade at his feet. In "Ambush," O'Brien imagines how he might relay the story of the man he killed to his nine-year-old daughter, Kathleen. In this second story, O'Brien provides more details of the actual killing—including the sound of the grenade and his own feelings—and explains that even well after the fact, he hasn't finished sorting out the experience.
In the last story, "The Lives of the Dead," O'Brien gives another twist to his contention that stories have the power to save people. In the stories of Curt Lemon and Kiowa, O'Brien explains that his imagination allowed him to grapple successfully with his guilt and confusion over the death of his fourth-grade first love, Linda.
After the war is over, Jimmy Cross visits Tim and the two reminisce over coffee. Jimmy reveals that he never forgave himself for Ted Lavender's death, at which point Tim and Jimmy decide to switch from coffee to alcohol. The mood lightens and around midnight, Tim feels comfortable enough to ask Jimmy about Martha. Jimmy is shocked that Tim even remembered who Martha was. He ends up showing Tim the same photograph that he carried of Martha when he was in Vietnam. It turns out that after Jimmy burned the first one, Martha gave him a new one after running into him at a college reunion. Here's what happened: Jimmy and Martha spend almost an entire day together. Martha hasn't married, and is now a Lutheran missionary who has done work in Ethiopia and Guatemala.
Even though they seemed to be getting along OK, Martha is still distant, and doesn't even respond when Jimmy tells her that he loves her. At the end of the evening, he tell her about his fantasy -previously mentioned in "The Things They Carried" - about carrying her to the bed and tying her up so that he could hold her hand to his knee all night long. Yes, he did tell her about that. Unsurprisingly, Martha doesn't take this well, and simultaneously expresses disgust at "the things men do" and implies that she's either a lesbian or had been sexually assaulted in the past, or both. Well, whatever she meant, Jimmy gets it, and the next morning, Martha apologizes and explains that "there was nothing she could do about it" (Love.5). The two part on relatively good terms, with Martha giving Jimmy another copy of her picture. Back in the present, Jimmy tells Tim that no matter what, he still loves Martha. Tim asks Jimmy if he'd mind if he (Tim) wrote a story about it. Jimmy thinks it over and says he wouldn't, that it might even make Martha fall in love with him after all. He asks Tim to make him look good, and not mention anything about ----- [blank].And Tim says that he won't.
O'Brien starts the chapter off by telling us that the war "wasn't all about terror and violence" (Spin.1), and then launches into a number of very short stories that then show the sweetness in the war. A little boy with one leg asks Azar for chocolate, and Azar gives him some. Aww. Lest we think that Azar is in any way a good person for more than a second, Azar then says that the boy's one leg showed how much war sucks, because it means that "some poor ****er [soldier] ran out of ammo" (Spin.1). Trust us, you'll hate him even more later. Mitchell Sanders spends an hour picking off his body lice, puts them in an envelope, and sends them to his draft board back in Ohio. O'Brien compares the war to a Ping Pong ball, saying that you could put a spin on it and make it dance. Norman Bowker and Henry Dobbins have a ritual checkers game every evening, one that the rest of the men often gather around to watch. There is order in checkers, two clear armies, rules. It's restful. Tim sits at his typewriter now, 43 years old, and remembers Kiowa dying in a field of excrement (yeah, like sewage) and Curt Lemon dead in a tree. And while he's remembering it, he can't help but relive it. But that wasn't the whole war. Back in Vietnam, Ted Lavender takes too many tranquilizers, he says that the war is nice and mellow.
An old Vietnamese guy leads them through the mine fields in the Batangan Peninsula. He knows exactly where the safe spaces are, and where you definitely do not want to step. Rat Kiley makes up a rhyme: "Step out of line, hit a mine; follow the dink, you're in the pink" (Spin.8). The men fall in love with the old man, and when the choppers came to take the soldiers away, everyone is sad (including the old man). The war is about waiting as much as it is about humping. It is boredom (a nerve-wracking boredom, but boredom nonetheless) interspersed with seriously gut-wrenching terror. Tim feels guilty for still writing war stories. Kathleen, his daughter, tells him it's an obsession.
Tim agrees that maybe he should forget, but that "the thing about remembering is that you don't forget" (Spin.13). That his real obsession is not the war, but the stories. He tells a peace story. A guy - unnamed - goes AWOL and has a great time. But he ends up returning to his unit, telling his buddies that the peace "felt so good it hurt. I want to hurt it back" (Spin.16). Mitchell Sanders told Tim that story, and even though it's probably made up, Tim still feels that it's true. He says that sometimes in a battle, even at the height of chaos, looking up at the fluffy clouds in the blue sky could make you feel amazingly at peace. He says that the memories that stick out the most are the fragments of stories: Norman Bowker whispers to Tim that he wishes his dad didn't care if he (Norman) wins any medals. Kiowa teaches Rat Kiley and Dave Jensen to do a rain dance. Rat is predictably disappointed when no rain ensues. Ted Lavender adopts a puppy, and then Azar straps it to a mine and blows it up. (See? We told you that you were going to hate Azar.) The men in the platoon are about nineteen or twenty years old, to which Tim attributes Azar's pranks. Azar, naturally, has no idea why everybody is so angry with him for killing the puppy. He says he's just a boy. Tim also remembers the smell of an empty body bag, the moon rising over the paddies, Henry Dobbins sewing on his sergeant stripes and singing, grass bending when a helicopter lands on it, a slim, dead, dainty young man of about twenty killed on a red clay trail outside the village of My Khe, and Kiowa trying to get him to talk about it. He says that stories are for joining the past to the future, and making sure memories last forever.
Tim has never told anyone this story, and lets us know right away that he's ashamed of it because it exposes him as a coward.Here we go, then.
It begins in June of 1968, when Tim is drafted.
Tim doesn't believe that the war is right, and thinks the country's reasons for going to war aren't solid enough to warrant a whole lot of killing.
When Tim gets his draft notice in the mail, he thinks (smugly but believably), that he's too good for the war - bound for grad school at Harvard, Phi Beta Kappa, and just obviously unsuited for combat. He hates camping, blood, and authority, for starters.
His father asks what his plans are, and he says he isn't sure.
He spends that summer working in a meatpacking plant, which is completely gross.
Tim hates how gross it is (you really have to pick up the book to get the truly epic descriptions of grossness) and how much it smells, and feels like his entire life is becoming about slaughter.
Obviously, he's also incredibly stressed about his upcoming stint in the army.
The only available option - other than going to Vietnam - seems to be running away to Canada, an eight-hour drive away.
He keeps going back and forth about whether or not he should run. He thinks that if there were a war that he agreed with, he would totally sign up for it. It's not like he's a sissy or anything, but he knows that if he runs to Canada, people would brand him as one.
Finally, one day, while standing there at the meatpacking plant, he breaks. He goes home, takes a shower, leaves a note for his parents, and starts to drive towards Canada.
When he gets to the Rainy River - which separates Minnesota from Canada - he finds an old, broken-down fishing resort called the Tip Top Lodge. Its owner (or manager, or caretaker, or something - his actual job is never totally made clear) is Elroy Berdahl, an 81-year-old man. Tim says that Elroy saved his life.
Tim stays at the Tip Top Lodge for six days, and Elroy mostly remains silent. He certainly doesn't ask Tim any questions. Tim is the only guest at the Tip Top Lodge, and Tim is pretty sure that Elroy knows why he's there.
Tim does odd jobs for Elroy, and they do a lot of fishing.
Tim is starting to freak out - yes, even more - about his quest to Canada. He's right there, but he can't seem to make himself take the plunge. He fantasizes about it a lot, and a lot of those fantasies end with him being chased down by the FBI and the Mounties. He isn't sure he wants to leave his country forever.
Through it all, Elroy never asks Tim a question. Tim appreciates it, since he's reasoned himself completely out of rationality and has now come straight up against two conflicting instincts.
Four nights in, Tim asks Elroy how much he owes him. Elroy says $260 for room and board, but when Tim says he'll need to take off in a couple of days, Elroy insists on paying him for the odd jobs, and asks Tim how much money he made on his last job.
Tim finally begins to talk about his job at the meatpacking plant, telling the old man in detail about just how awful it was.
Elroy decides to pay Tim way more than he earned at the meatpacking plant, and ends up owing Tim money instead of the other way around.
Tim turns the money down, but Elroy tacks it to his door anyway, making Tim think that Elroy must know about his plans.
On the sixth day, Elroy takes Tim fishing on the Rainy River. At some point, Tim realizes that they must be in Canadian waters. Elroy cuts the engine about twenty yards from the Canadian side of the river, and Tim is now faced with a dilemma: jump and swim to the other side, or stay.
Paralyzed, Tim starts to cry. Elroy pretends not to notice.
Tim realizes that there's no way he'll jump. He's not brave enough.
All of a sudden, on the Minnesota side of the river, he sees a hallucination of his family, the mayor, old teachers, Jimmy Cross, Linda, Jane Fonda, Huck Finn - in short, everyone he's ever met in his life, many characters in this book, and an assortment of historical figures and celebrities.
All of his hallucination friends are yelling at him, either to jump and swim to Canada or to stay where he is.
And he tries to jump overboard.
And he can't. He's too embarrassed. And Elroy bears witness.
Tim leaves the lodge the next morning. He leaves Elroy's money on his kitchen counter, drives back home, and heads to Vietnam.
When one of his friends is killed, Rat writes to the friend's sister. He explains what a great guy her brother was, and tells them how close the two of them were. It's a long letter, and very personal. Rat is practically crying as he writes it. She never writes back. Tim tells us that a true war story is not a moral story, that you can tell a war story is true if it contains obscenity and evil. He says that because of Rat's response to the sister's non-response - that "the dumb cooze never writes back" - you can tell that it's a true war story (How to Tell a True War Story.10). Rat's friend's name was Curt Lemon. The day of his death is a peaceful day. Rat and Curt are playing chicken under a tree, tossing a smoke grenade back and forth in the sunlight. Lemon must have stepped on a mine, because all of a sudden it seems as if the sunlight has lifted him off the ground and right into the tree. Tim explains that even though it wasn't the sunlight that really killed Curt, that's what it seemed like - and therefore that's the truth of what happened. This is the first time that O'Brien gets really into his idea of story-truth and happening-truth, but there'll be a lot more, so keep your eyes peeled. Another way that you can tell that a war story is true is if it sounds too crazy to be believed. Like this one, from Mitchell Sanders: A six-man patrol is supposed to go up into the mountains and listen for enemy movement for a week. They're supposed to be completely silent; just listen. They start to hear things. Music. Chimes, xylophones, voices at a fancy cocktail party, a glee club, a choir. The voices of Vietnam.They freak out and order up a bunch of firepower on the mountain. They completely destroy the place. The next morning, things are quiet. They go back down the mountain. A colonel asks what happened, what they heard, and why they just spent six trillion dollars on firepower. The men just stare at him, amazed at how little he hears. Later, Sanders tells Tim that he figured out the moral of the story. It's that no one every listens. Later still, Mitchell admits to Tim that he invented a few details - the glee club, the opera - but that the guys definitely did hear crazy things. Tim says that he gets it. Then Mitchell tells us that the real moral (or maybe it's just another moral...) is the quiet around them. Neither he nor Tim chooses to elaborate on that for us. Tim goes on to talk about whether or not there can even be a moral in a true war story; he says that if there is, it's not a coherent message that you can separate from the rest of the story.
He says that true war stories are about instinct, not trite generalizations like "War is hell." They should make your stomach believe. Here's another one: After Curt Lemon is killed - could be the same day, could be a while after - the soldiers find a baby water buffalo. Rat Kiley pats its nose. He tries to feed it. Then he begins to shoot it. (Yes, our face just contorted too.) He keeps shooting it until it is a mutilated lump of barely alive baby buffalo (you really need to read the book for the details), and then, crying, he goes off by himself. Dave Jensen keeps saying he'd never seen anything like it. They drop the baby buffalo in the well. Tim tells us that we can't generalize about war any more than we can generalize about peace. It's hell, but it's other things besides. Battles are grotesque, but also beautiful; napalm is devastating, but also astonishing. And after a battle, you feel immensely, wonderfully alive. There's no clarity in war. Which means that no war story is ever completely true.
Sometimes, in a true war story there's not even a point.
After Curt Lemon is killed, all the parts of him are hanging in a tree. Tim and Dave Jensen have to climb up the tree and throw all the bits down. The gore is awful, but what really sticks in Tim's head is Jensen singing "Lemon Tree" while they're up there. You can tell if a war story is true by if it you'd feel cheated if it hadn't happened. If you'd feel betrayed by its untruth, then it's not true, even if it happened. If you wouldn't feel betrayed, then it's true, even if it didn't happen. Tim thinks that the truth is that the sunlight killed Curt Lemon, not a rigged 105 round. Lemon must have believed that it was the sunlight. And Tim thinks that if he could get the story right, if he could describe it in just the right way, then we'd believe it, too. OK, brace yourselves, because O'Brien's about to really screw with your heads: He says that when he reads this story, sometimes a woman will come up to him and say she liked it, because of the poor baby buffalo and oh how horrible, he missed his friend, and Tim should really just try to put it behind him. Tim thinks that she's an idiot, because she's missed the point. It's not a war story, it's a love story.
So he retells the tale, taking out Rat and Curt and the buffalo and the setting and everything, because it's all made up. And that really it happened in a totally different place and it happened to some guy named Stink Harris. Tim says that you can tell a true war story if you just keep on telling it. And that it's not about war, exactly, it's about all the things that go into war - sunlight and love and memory and people who don't listen.
Rat Kiley often tells stories, and it's hard to know whether they actually happened or not; he believes in story-truth, not happening-truth. But the story that Rat is about to tell, he claims is absolutely and completely true - something that he saw with his own eyes. Mitchell Sanders says that the story - about a medic who ships his girlfriend over to Vietnam from Ohio - couldn't possibly be true. But Rat insists. The story starts when Rat is assigned to a small medical detachment in the mountains near a village called Tra Bong and a river called the Song Tra Bong. There isn't a lot of military oversight in the medics' compound, and the security is provided by a mix of RFs (Regional Forces), PFs (Popular Forces), and ARVN (Army of the Republic of Vietnam) infantry. The ARVN are, according to either Rat or Tim, useless as soldiers, and the RFs/PFs (also known as Ruff-and-Puffs) are South Vietnamese militias and are worse than useless - they are dangerous. The only other soldiers on the compound are a squad of six Green Berets who use the compound as a base of operations. The Green Berets, or Greenies, have their own fortified hootch (hut) at the edge of the perimeter, and they keep to themselves, gliding in and out of camp when they need to. Creepily. (There are going to be a lot of creepy things in this story, we're just warning you now.) One night, Eddie Diamond, the ranking NCO (non-commissioned officer), suggests as a joke that the medics find a way to bring a girl into the camp (which kind of tells you exactly how slack discipline is at this place). But one kid, Mark Fossie, takes the idea seriously. He says that if you did it right, you could fly a girl in. After all, there's no war at the compound, really. The rest of the medics don't really pay attention to the guy. And then his girlfriend arrives. Her name is Mary Anne Bell, and she's seventeen and has long legs, blonde hair, and blue eyes, and she's wearing a pink sweater and culottes (knee-length shorts that are wide and look like a skirt). Now that's not what we were expecting. Turns out Mark Fossie just paid a lot of money for plane tickets to get Mary Anne to Saigon, and she hitched rides on military aircraft to get the rest of the way. Mary Anne and Mark have been sweethearts since sixth grade, and plan to get married and live near Lake Erie and have three children. They are really in love. Her presence helped boost the morale for the rest of the guys, too; she's bubbly and happy and interested in everything, from how Claymore mines work to the geography of the country. She spends time with the ARVNs learning Vietnamese and insists on visiting the village of Tra Bong, despite the fact that none other than the Viet Cong controlled it. Then she swims in the Song Tra Bong, despite the possibility of ambush and snipers. While there are parts of the story that could have been funny, Rat never treats them that way. It's a straight tragedy for him. And he insists that Mary Anne wasn't dumb - that she was like any of them when they'd first arrived in Vietnam, young and innocent. This, he says, is a story about human nature and Vietnam. Back to the story: Mary Anne just keeps picking things up. She helps the medics when the wounded come in, unafraid of blood. She cuts her hair short and stops wearing makeup and jewelry. She learns to use an M-16. While she remains loving towards Mark Fossie, the details of their future plans became hazy. Marriage is no longer a given. When Mark tries to get her to go back home, she says she'd rather stay in Vietnam. She becomes more serious and distracted. She zones out when the medics played cards at night, staring into the dark. She says she'd never been happier. (See? Creepy.) A couple of times, she doesn't come back in until late. Then she doesn't show up at all. Fossie goes crazy looking for her, all over the compound; Rat helps. She isn't sleeping with any of the medics. Fossie assumed she was sleeping with someone. At this point, Rat interrupts the story and asked Mitchell Sanders where he thinks Mary Anne was. Sanders promptly guesses that she was with the Greenies, because it made narrative sense - why bring up the Greenies at the beginning of the story if they're not going to pop up later? As it turns out, Mitchell Sanders is right, but Mary Anne isn't sleeping with any of the Greenies. Nope, she's out on ambush with them. She comes trotting in with the Greenies just after sunrise and asks Mark to wait until she's slept to yell at her. Mark, unsurprisingly, chooses to yell at her immediately, and the two disappear to have a (serious? creepy?) talk. When Mary Anne comes out that evening, she's dressed in a skirt and a white blouse, and she and Mark are engaged. Anyone who's ever read a story - and certainly any of the previous stories in this book - will know that this is not the story's happy ending. The two of them seem happy from a distance, but in reality, the two of them are brittle. Mark begins making plans for Mary Anne to go back home. Mary Anne starts to withdraw. She keeps staring at the jungle. And then she disappears, and the six Greenies disappear with her. Three weeks later, the Greenies come back, and Mary Anne is with them. But instead of her eyes glowing blue, Rat said, they seemed to glow jungle green. She doesn't stop to say hi to any of the medics, but goes straight to the Greenies' hootch and heads inside. Rat interrupts himself here to tell the soldiers that while the story sounds weird, it's true, really true, and that being seduced by the Greenies happens to guys all the time, so why shouldn't it happen to a lady? Mitchell Sanders tells Rat to stop digressing and tell the story right. Back to the story: Mark Fossie plants himself in front of the Special Forces area, waiting for Mary Anne to come out. He waits there all day. At midnight, Rat and Eddie Diamond go to check on him. They hear crazy, atonal music coming from the hootch, and a woman singing. Fossie recognizes the woman's voice as Mary Anne's (well, and there are no other women around anyway). The singing gets louder and crazier, and Fossie runs into the hootch. Rat and Eddie follow. The next scene is definitely the creepiest scene in this entire book, and very possibly the creepiest scene in any book ever, so just prepare yourself. And we couldn't possibly do the creepiness of this justice, so you should really go read it right now. Still, we'll try to give a summary. The room is dark, lit by twelve candles. There's the stench of incense and something else. There are human bones. There are dead animals. The Greenies are all lying around on hammocks or cots, and none of them move. Mark Fossie asks for Mary Anne, and she steps forward. She's wearing her pink sweater and her culottes. Her eyes are emotionless. Horrifyingly, she's wearing a necklace made out of human tongues. She tells Mark that he doesn't understand Vietnam, that she feels like she wants to eat the whole country, that she can never get enough of it. Rat leads Fossie out of the hootch, telling him that Mary Anne is gone. That's where Rat Kiley stops telling the story. Mitchell Sanders asks what happened to Mary Anne, and Rat says he isn't sure. He transferred to the Alpha Company a couple of days later, but he has some secondhand reports. He also says that he'd loved Mary Anne. She's the only American girl he's met who really understood the war, because she'd been there. Rat got the end of the story from Eddie Diamond, who'd gotten it from a Greenie. Here it is: Mary Anne loves the night patrols. She starts to blend in more and more, going barefoot and not carrying a weapon. She disappears every now and then for hours or days. Finally, she walks into the mountains, never to return. No finds a body. Mark Fossie is sent home on medical leave. Mary Anne is reported missing. The Greenies, though, believe that Mary Anne is still out there in the dark, gliding around, wearing her culottes, pink sweater, and necklace of human tongues. Say it with us, now: CREEPY.
Back from Vietnam, on the Fourth of July, Norman Bowker is driving the seven-mile loop around the lake over and over again. The lake is calm and flat and silver. It's a graceful lake, but not good for swimming; it drowned his best friend Max Arnold before he could go to the war. There's no one around for Norman to talk to. Everyone's moved away. His old girlfriend, Sally, is married to another man, and happy. His father is watching baseball on TV. Norman starts another loop around the lake. He wishes he could stop in and talk to Sally and impress her with his new skill - he can tell time without a watch, thank you, Vietnam. He wants to tell her about how he almost won the Silver Star for valor. He wishes his father weren't watching baseball and were in the car with him instead, so that he could tell his father how he almost won the Silver Star for valor. He thinks his father would understand. And besides, Norman has seven other medals, which are ordinary medals for doing ordinary soldier things. Norman would tell him why he didn't end up winning the medal, telling him first about the Song Tra Bong, a river that in the monsoon season changed from a normal river to a big, stinky, overflowing muck. And that he would've won the medal if not for that darn smell. Norman keeps driving through the town. He wants to tell it about the war, but it doesn't look like it would care. He continues with how he would have told his father about the Silver Star, saying that there was a night when the Alpha Company camped in a field besides the Song Tra Bong. Locals told them not to camp there, that it was an evil field. But because the platoon had apparently never seen a horror movie, they went ahead and did it anyway. By midnight, the river had overflowed, and the rain made the field all oozy. What's more disgusting, it turned out the field was literally a full of sewage, the village toilet. If Norman were telling the story to Sally, she would at this point be offended by the obscenity. His father wouldn't, though. Neither would Max.
Norman starts his eighth loop around the lake. If Max were here, he would talk to Max about the war, and courage. And if his father wanted to talk, he would talk to his father. He would say that late that night, the platoon came under attack, and the night went completely monkey-poo - impressive, given that they were already in poo. The shells were going into the field, making it boil. The smell was beyond bad. All of a sudden, Kiowa got hit by something, and started to sink into the muck. He grabbed Kiowa's arm and tried to pull him out, but started to get pulled under himself. The smell was everywhere, and was just too much. So he let go of Kiowa and worked his way out of the field.
Norman thinks it would be a good war story, but no one wants to hear war stories about Vietnam. He goes to the A&W and orders a burger, but he's been away, and he doesn't realize that things have changed and he's supposed to order from an intercom now, and that "rootie-tootie" is the new slang for root beer. Suddenly, the intercom starts to talk to him, asking if Norman has anything he wants to get off his chest. Norman says no, there's nothing. On his eleventh tour around the lake, he realizes that he'll never be able to talk about it - not with anyone. He was extremely brave, but not as brave as he wanted to be. If he told his dad, his dad might get it, and might say that at least he got seven other medals. The Fourth of July fireworks start. Norman wades into the lake and stands there while he watches them. He thinks it's a pretty good show.
The morning after the incident in the sewage field, the soldiers look for Kiowa's body. Jimmy Cross helps in the search and watches his men. He sees a young soldier (this is presumably Tim, but O'Brien has chosen to tell this story in the third person) standing off by himself, shaking, in his own world. Jimmy thinks about Kiowa's death, and how Kiowa, a brave and decent kid, absolutely didn't deserve to die in a field of sewage. He thinks about what he's going to write to Kiowa's father, and how he shouldn't mention the sewage field. Azar, of course, is cracking jokes about how Kiowa drowned in poop. Bowker tells him to shut up, but Azar, being Azar, just keeps making horrible puns. They still haven't found the body. Halfway across the field, Mitchell Sanders finds Kiowa's rucksack. When Bowker wants to tell Cross that they found it, Sanders says no. He blames Jimmy for deciding to camp in a latrine. Bowker points out that none of them knew the field was the village toilet until it was too late. Jimmy has finished writing the letter to Kiowa's father (in his head, anyway). He wishes he were playing golf. He wishes that he weren't the one in charge. He'd signed up to be an officer without really thinking about what it meant. He blames himself. He should have paid attention to the old Vietnamese women who warned them away from the field in the first place. But he'd had orders to camp in the field, so he'd camped in the field. It was a mistake, and Kiowa had died. He'll tell Kiowa's father that the blame lies with him. They never should have camped there. The young soldier is still shaking, and he seems to be searching for something in the field. Jimmy Cross goes over to the boy. The boy blames himself, too. He and Kiowa had been very close, and that night, he'd switched on his flashlight to show Kiowa a picture of his girlfriend, and then the field had exploded with mortars.
He heard Kiowa scream, and he crawled towards Kiowa. His head was under the surface of the mud, and the boy grabbed Kiowa's boot, but the field was pulling him under, and so he let go. Now he's digging frantically in the mud. Jimmy Cross asks him what he's looking for, and the boy says he's looking for his girlfriend's picture. Jimmy Cross leaves him alone. Norman Bowker finds Kiowa; his heel is sticking out. Mitchell Sanders, Bowker, and Azar try to pull Kiowa out of the mud, but he's stuck. They call Henry Dobbins and Rat Kiley over, but the body still won't come out. The men start to dig. The rest of the platoon comes over, except for Jimmy Cross and the young soldier. They finally get Kiowa out. It's horrible. They clean the body off and call in to the radio to get someone to come take the body away. The men relax. Azar apologies to Norman Bowker for the jokes. (Any time Azar acts like a decent human being, we're a little suspicious, but he seems to mean it this time.) He tells Norman that he feels that, by telling the jokes, he's responsible for Kiowa's death. Bowker says that it's nobody's fault, and everybody's. The young soldier wants to confess his part in Kiowa's death to Jimmy Cross - how he turned on his flashlight and drew the mortar fire - but Jimmy Cross isn't listening. He's thinking about blame. He's thinking that while you could blame the war and every cause of the war and God and everything else there is, in the field, blame needs to be more immediate.
He thinks that maybe when the war is over he'll write a letter to Kiowa's father, or maybe he'll just go play golf.
Tim gets shot twice in his time in Vietnam. The first time, Rat Kiley is there, and takes care of him. Tim is sent away to recover and is fine. Twenty-six days later, when he returns to the Alpha Company, Rat Kiley is no longer with the group - he was wounded and shipped to Japan - and the company has a new medic named Bobby Jorgenson, who's green. When Tim is shot the second time - this time *********** - Jorgenson is too scared to crawl over to him. Tim nearly dies of shock, and the wound is so poorly treated that his butt then gets gangrene. As you might imagine, Tim isn't too happy with Bobby Jorgenson. People make fun of Tim pretty much constantly. It's the worst wound he's ever gotten, and he can't even talk about it without being an object of ridicule. After he's released from the hospital, Tim is transferred away from the Alpha Company to the battalion supply section. There's no fighting there, and he's basically safe. Despite this, he misses the front. And he keeps thinking about how he can get back at Bobby Jorgenson when he sees the guy again. Eventually, the Alpha Company comes to the battalion supply section for a break. Tim gets to see most of his old friends - Mitchell Sanders, Azar, Norman Bowker, Henry Dobbins, Dave Jensen - and, as usual, there are plenty of stories to tell.
Mitchell Sanders tells one (Azar interrupting all the while) about Morty Phillips and how he used up his luck: It's an incredibly hot day, and Morty disappears. Everyone's flipping out, and then, at dark, Morty shows up again. He's soaking wet. He went skinny dipping in a river. He could easily have been killed - it wasn't exactly safe territory - but he wasn't. But! The water wasn't safe to drink. Morty gets polio, and then becomes paralyzed. It's a good story, but Tim can't stop thinking about how much he doesn't belong with these men anymore. He misses the companionship.
And he keeps wondering, and asking, where Bobby Jorgenson is. The butt wound continues to be humiliating. He has to spread ointment on it three times a day, which stains his pants and prompts another round of hilarious jokes. Mitchell Sanders tell Tim to forget about Bobby Jorgenson - the kid was new and scared and he's better at his job now. He tells Tim that Bobby's one of them now, and Tim isn't, really. That doesn't exactly make Tim feel better. It just makes him feel betrayed. Bobby comes to talk to Tim and apologizes. He tells Tim he just froze, and he has nightmares about it. He nearly cries, but gets it together. Tim ignores him. The apology just makes him angrier - now he can't even hate the guy. Tim realizes that it's probably wrong to want revenge, but he wants it anyway. He thinks it needs to happen. He tries to enlist Mitchell Sanders to help him mess with Jorgenson's head, but Mitchell Sanders wants no part in it. So he asks for Azar's help. (It's worth noting that the moment you've asked for Azar's help on anything is a moment for deep introspection and possibly a life change.) Azar, of course, agrees happily.
Their plan is to scare Jorgenson while he's on watch, playing on the fears that all the soldiers feel in the dark. Azar and Tim rig up a whole series of contraptions to make Jorgenson think that there are ghosts out there. Tim considers backing out, but when he sees Jorgenson fitting in well with the group at evening chow, he decides to go ahead with it. The two wait until midnight to start, going to a Jane Fonda movie to kill time. Tim knows that dark is the best time to freak out a soldier, because soldiers will already be hearing plenty of things on their own. Tim feels like he's in a movie. First, Tim and Azar pull on ropes that are hooked up to noisemakers. Jorgenson tenses. Watching Jorgenson, Tim feels himself rise out of his body. He feels like he's part of the country, part of the war, the atrocity itself. Next, after waiting a bit, they set off some trip flares. It gets really bright, like daylight. Jorgenson panics and rolls for cover, terrified. Tim thinks this makes them even. Now Jorgenson knows what it feels like to think you're going to die, and how completely not like a movie it is. He feels close to Jorgenson, even. He tries to call off the rest of the game, but Azar refuses. Azar loves this stuff. Azar mocks Tim's fear, as Tim tries to call him off. He tells Tim that all Tim really wanted to was to pretend to be a soldier again, when he's really just a has-been. (This is why we don't enlist Azar as a partner-in-crime, among other things.) Tim starts to freak out. He feels like he did when he got shot the second time. He's back there, and he feels himself rising out of his body, trying to tell Jorgenson to treat him for shock but unable to say a word. He feels like he's dying. He tries to get Azar to stop, but Azar won't stop. Azar fires up a couple of red flares, and throws a tear-gas grenade. Finally, Azar pulls out the final touch, something that Tim devised himself: a pulley system with a white sandbag that looks like a ghost. Jorgenson shoots the sandbag. He does not freak out. He shoots at the sandbag again. Then he walks out to the sandbag, sees it's a sandbag, yells Tim's name, and shoots the sandbag again, calmly, at point-blank range. Whoa. Tim is huddled on the ground, shivering. Azar drops the rope, glares at Tim, calls him pathetic, and kicks him in the head. (Again, this is why we don't make deals with Azar.) Jorgenson treats Tim's head wound and admires the cinematic vision that went into playing the prank. He admits that it got him for a moment. He tells Tim that he should go into the movies or something. The two feel closer now. Tim apologizes; so does Bobby. Then Tim suggests that the two of them kill Azar, and Bobby laughs.
Tim says that stories can save us. Through the stories, Tim keeps Linda and Ted Lavender and Kiowa and Curt Lemon alive. (Don't worry, you're going to find out who Linda is later.) When Tim has only been in Vietnam for four days, the platoon takes sniper fire from a village, so Jimmy Cross orders an air strike on the place. When they've completely destroyed it, they go in. The only person there is an old man lying dead by a pigpen. The other guys go over and shake his hand, introducing themselves. Dave Jensen tries to get Tim to do the same, but he can't. It's too real for him, and he's scared. Later, Kiowa tells him that he thought that was impressive. He wishes he'd had the guts to say no. He asks Tim if it was the first time he's seen a body, and Tim says that the body reminded him of his first date. (Um.) Linda and Timmy are nine and in love. Timmy takes her out on his very first date. They go to a movie - with Timmy's parents, of course. Timmy likes Linda's new red cap, and compliments her on it. She smiles, but his mother glares at him. In Vietnam, when Ted Lavender dies, Mitchell Sanders asks the body how the war is going, and someone answers "Mellow" for him. Tim says that stories animate bodies. Timmy and Linda watch The Man Who Never Was for their first date. Tim can't stop thinking about one of the dead bodies in the movie. They go to Diary Queen afterwards, then say goodnight to each other. Linda keeps wearing her new cap to school. A kid named Nick Veenhof keeps teasing her about it. Timmy doesn't do anything about the teasing. One day, Nick pulls the cap off, and reveals to the entire class that Linda is almost bald. She has cancer. She looks at Timmy, and Timmy nods. Timmy and Nick walk her home that day. Tim uses stories to save Linda's life - to bring her back, however briefly. Linda dies. Timmy tries to imagine what it's like to be dead, picturing Linda, trying to make her alive. He sees her in his mind, and he starts to cry. She tells him to stop crying - that it doesn't matter. Back in Vietnam, the soldiers pretend that death isn't as awful as it is. They tell stories about the dead as if they're still alive - Ted Lavender, Curt Lemon. After Linda dies, Timmy gets his father to take him to see the body. When he looks at it, he doesn't recognize it as Linda.
One day, when Tim and Mitchell Sanders are assigned to pick up 27 bloated, disgusting enemy bodies, death hits home. Mitchell Sanders tells Tim that death sucks, as if that's some great wisdom. Timmy kept making up stories in which Linda was alive. She says things like "Once you're alive, you can't ever be dead," and "Do I look dead?" (The Lives of the Dead.113-4). They go ice-skating in his dreams. Linda tells him that death is like being inside a book that nobody's reading. In 1990, Tim is still dreaming of Linda being alive, and Kiowa, and Ted Lavender, and Curt Lemon, and even himself, as Timmy.
this story presents the bitter experience of a wounded lieutenant at the war front, barracks and hospital. the author hasn't given name to the lieutenant but used generic name in order to show that war is bitter experience not for an individual only but for all soldiers of any nationality, place and time.
While dividing the coffee powder, the Lieutenant was mysteriously shot on his right arm by a bullet. The fellowmen gazed at him with awe and some offered him help. But lieutenant did not accept their help. Soon all his fellowmen had to take their position in the battle field, so he started walking alone towards the military hospital. On the way he met some stragglers who did not care about his wound. In the barrack, several officers came out to see him and started asking several questions. One of them noticed his wound, but without any right treatment or sympathy he tied his wound with a handkerchief. He even scolded him. Lieutenant reached hospital. He found that the hospital was mismanaged- the ambulances were stuck up in the mud and no one cared the wounded soldiers. He met a busy surgeon who behaved him in an indifferent manner. He talked to the lieutenant as if he was talking to a criminal, not to a brave soldier. Though the surgeon told that he would not amputate his hand, he found himself losing his arm. When he went to his home the family members started crying because they did not realize his bravery. Though he was a war hero, he felt himself ashamed.
Thus this story shows the gap between appearance and reality. War is glorified but soldiers are treated indifferently. A brave war hero is misbehaved wherever he goes. The wound sets the lieutenant apart from his fellow soldiers. He becomes disillusioned by the war while his fellow soldiers glorify war.
is an adventure story of a man's futile attempt to travel across ten miles of Yukon wilderness in temperatures dropping to seventy-five degrees below zero. At ten o'clock in the morning, the unnamed protagonist plans to arrive by lunchtime at a camp where others are waiting. Unfortunately, unanticipated complications make this relatively short journey impossible. By nine o'clock that morning, there is no sun in the sky, and three feet of snow has fallen in this desolate Yukon area. Despite the gloomy, bitter, numbing cold, the man is not worried, even though he has reason to worry. At first he underestimates the cold. He knows that his face and fingers are numb, but he fails to realize the seriousness of his circumstances until later in the story. As the story unfolds, the man gets progressively more worried about the situation. At first, he is simply aware of the cold; then be becomes slightly worried; finally, he becomes frantic.
His only companion is his wolf-dog. The animal, depressed by the cold, seems to sense that something awful might occur because of the tremendously low temperatures. The dog is frightened, and its behavior should show the man that he has underestimated the danger.
At ten o'clock, the man believes that he is making good time in his journey by traveling four miles an hour. He decides to stop and rest. His face is numb, and his cheeks are frostbitten. He begins to wish that he had foreseen the danger of frostbite and had gotten a facial strap for protection. He tells himself that frostbitten cheeks are never serious, merely painful, as a way to soothe himself psychologically and force himself not to worry about the cold. He knows the area and realizes the danger of springs hidden beneath the snow, covered only by a thin sheet of ice. At this point, the character is very concerned about these springs but underestimates the danger. Getting wet would only delay him, for he would then have to build a fire to dry off his feet and clothes. Every time he comes on a suspected trap, he forces the dog to go ahead to see if it is safe. He begins to feel increasingly nervous about the cold.
By twelve o'clock, he is still far away from his camp and anticipates getting there by six o'clock, in time for dinner. He is pleased with his progress, but, in reality, he is simply reassuring himself that there is no need to worry. He decides to stop and eat lunch, a lunch he had planned to eat with his friends at the camp. His fingers are so numb that he cannot hold his biscuit. He reflects back to the time when he had laughed at an old man who had told him how dangerous cold weather could be. He now realizes that perhaps he had reason to worry and that he had forgotten to build a fire for warmth. He carefully builds a fire, thaws his face, and takes "his comfortable time over a smoke." Then he decides that he should begin walking again. The fire has restored his confidence, but the dog wants to stay by the warmth and safety of the fire.
The man's face soon becomes frozen again as he resumes his journey. Lulled into a false sense of security by the fire, he has become less and less aware of his surroundings and steps into a hidden spring, which wets him to his waist. His immediate reaction is anger because he will be delayed by building another fire. He carefully builds a fire, well aware of the importance of drying himself. He remembers the old man's advice at Sulphur Creek that circulation cannot be restored by running in this temperature because the feet would simply freeze faster. His fire is a success and he is safe. He now feels superior, because although he has had an accident and he is alone, he has saved himself from possible death. He decides that any man can travel alone as long as he keeps his head.
Although confident because of his swift action of building a fire to dry off, he is surprised at how fast his nose and cheeks are freezing. He can barely control his hands; his fingers are lifeless and frostbitten. Suddenly, his fire exists no more; he has built it under a large tree that is weighed down with snow, and when he pulls down some twigs to feed the flame, the snow in the tree is dislodged and falls on the man and his fire. He thinks again about the old man at Sulphur Creek and realizes that a partner at this time would be helpful. He begins to rebuild the fire, aware that he will lose toes, and possibly his feet, to frostbite. Because his fingers are nearly useless, he has difficulty collecting twigs. He is so sure that this fire will succeed that he collects large branches for when the fire is strong. His belief that the fire will succeed is the only thing that keeps him alive. He finishes the foundation of his fire and needs the birch bark in his pocket to start it, but cannot clutch the wood. He panics, drops his matches, and is unable to pick them up. He succeeds in picking them up, finally, and by using his teeth, he rips one match out of the pack. By holding it in his teeth and striking it against his legs twenty times, he lights it but drops it again when the smoke gets into his nostrils. He then strikes the entire pack of matches against his leg and tries to light the wood but only burns his flesh. He drops the matches, and the small pieces of rotten wood burn. He knows that this is his last chance for life and that he cannot allow the matches to go out.
Because he cannot operate his hands, in his attempt to keep the fire burning, he spreads it out too much and it goes out. Now he can only think of killing the dog to put his hands in the carcass to relieve their numbness. The dog senses danger, however, and quickly moves away. The man goes wild and catches the dog but soon realizes that he cannot kill it because he cannot use his hands. He knows that death is near and begins running, just as the old man had warned him not to do. The man hopes that he has a chance to run to camp but knows that he really has no chance, for he lacks the strength. He curses the dog, for it is warm and alive. The dog runs on but the man crumples after running a few yards. He decides to accept death peacefully and admits to himself that the old man at Sulphur Creek had been right. The dog stays with him, but when it smells the scent of death, it runs off in the direction of the camp, where reliable food and fire providers can be found.
the author most famous, most popular, and most anthologized short story, "_ ____ ___ _____" evokes the terms Southern gothic and grotesque, two types of literature in which the general tone is one of gloom, terror, and understated violence. The story is Faulkner's best example of these forms because it contains unimaginably dark images: a decaying mansion, a corpse, a murder, a mysterious servant who disappears, and, most horrible of all, necrophilia — an erotic or sexual attraction to corpses.
First published in the April 1930 Saturday Evening Post, "_ ____ ___ _____" was reprinted in These Thirteen (1931), a collection of thirteen of Faulkner's stories. It was later included in his Collected Stories (1950) and in the Selected Short Stories of the author (1961).
Most discussions of the short story center on Miss Emily Grierson, an aristocratic woman deeply admired by a community that places her on a pedestal and sees her as "a tradition, a duty" — or, as the unnamed narrator describes her, "a fallen monument." In contrast to the community's view, we realize eventually that Miss Emily is a woman who not only poisons and kills her lover, Homer Barron, but she keeps his rotting corpse in her bedroom and sleeps next to it for many years. The ending of the story emphasizes the length of time Miss Emily must have slept with her dead lover: long enough for the townspeople to find "a long strand of iron-gray hair" lying on the pillow next to "what was left of him, rotted beneath what was left of the nightshirt" and displaying a "profound and fleshless grin."
The contrast between the aristocratic woman and her unspeakable secrets forms the basis of the story. Because the Griersons "held themselves a little too high for what they really were," Miss Emily's father forbids her to date socially, or at least the community thinks so: "None of the young men were quite good enough for Miss Emily and such." She becomes so terribly desperate for human love that she murders Homer and clings to his dead body. Using her aristocratic position to cover up the murder and the necrophilia, ironically she sentences herself to total isolation from the community, embracing the dead for solace.
Although our first reaction to the short story might be one of horror or disgust, the author uses two literary techniques to create a seamless whole that makes the tale too intriguing to stop reading: the suspenseful, jumbled chronology of events, and the narrator's shifting point of view, which emphasizes Miss Emily's strength of purpose, her aloofness, and her pride, and lessens the horror and the repulsion of her actions.