Question #8

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Question #8

Post  briejones9 on Sat May 07, 2011 10:58 pm

This is an incorrect assumption. Norman Bowker's suicide by hanging is not a result of the Vietnam War but a result of the inability of the community and his parents to help him after the war. Norman was unable to assimilate back into society after the war. He could not keep a job, the girl he'd once been interested in had married, and his parents wanted no part of listening to him. They assumed it would be wrong to ask or to allow him to speak about the war. The community and his parents wanted to hear only the good, never the bad. Bowker had no place to go (p. 150). He felt that it was almost like he'd gotten killed in Nam (p.150). On page 34, Bowker speaks about how all he wanted was for his father to stop talking about seeing his medals when he returns. But that is not at all what his father wanted. He didn't care about nor asked about the medals Bowker received. All he cared about was the one medal that eluded Bowker, the Silver Star. And if Bowker could have stood the stench, he may have been able to save Kiowa when he was drowning in the stench of human waste, but he couldn't. He let go. But this troubled him for the rest of his life. He couldn't figure out what to do next. College didn't work for him, silly jobs didn't work for him. He'd done something important, and now it was stuck inside of him and he had no one with whom he could share the experience. His family, although polite, were not willing to listen. And the seven medals he did win - his father did not care to hear about. Bowker was lost, stuck in the muck like Kiowa had been, and unable to save himself. It was like society didn't want to hear a soldier complain; therefore, it is unlikely that Bowker's suicide was a result of the war, but rather a result of not being able to find his way in life again after returning from the war. He was spared his life, but in a way, I imagine he would have preferred drowning like Kiowa. At least he would have been looked on as a hero, having died in the war. Instead, he brought his family shame by committing suicide.

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Post  Marina Shehata on Mon May 09, 2011 5:02 pm

My opinion on this topic is almost the opposite. You believe that Norman Bowkers death was not due to the Vietnam War, but I believe it was. It is true that he was not able to find his way in life again after the war had ended, but what had caused him to not be able to? If he had not went to war, everything would be the same. He would still have his girlfriend that he was interested in, he would've probably went to college and got himself a job. His inability to go back to the way his life had been was entirely due to the war. The fact that his parents didn't want anything to do with listening to him isn't entirely true. Bowker constantly talked to his father about how he could have won the Silver Start if he had saved Kiowa. His father never brought the subject up and only talked about it when Bowker did. On page 136 and page 147, Bowker was the one that had brought the subject up and his father was the one who tried to comfort him saying he had 7 other medals. His father always listened to him (Can't say about the mother) but on page 154, she stated that "Norman was a quiet boy, and I don't suppose he wanted to bother anybody." This proves that Bowker didn't go around telling stories to those in his community; I don't think he wanted to burden other people. So, his suicide was, in fact, the result of the Vietnam war.

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Re: Question #8

Post  tia94 on Mon May 09, 2011 5:17 pm

I agree with Marina. Yes, the part of the reasons Norman Bowker hung himself was because of the inability of the community and his parents to help him after the war, but Vietnam plays an even bigger part on that. As a Vietnam veteran, you experience many things during the war and you form feelings within yourself you didn't even know existed. The way in which you perceive the world, and life itself will be complete changed after you set foot onto the soil of Vietnam, and that perception stays with you even when you leave the country. Even though the war is over for the soldiers, the memories and feelings stay with them, forming another soul and becoming part of their character. It is as if they had left half of themselves back in Vietnam and is struggling to bring it back. With Norman's situation it was worse because he had no means of expressing his pain and grief. He kept it all inside, and even though he is back to the place he had once called home, everything is different, the people and his feeling towards the town. That feeling can be unbearable, even for a Vietnam soldier, a man who had once held a gun, a man who had killed people. It is no doubt that Norman will be traumatized for the rest of his life, which did not last long after the war.

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Post  MirandaDodd on Tue May 10, 2011 12:10 am

I agree, and disagree. I dont think he killed him self DIRECTLY because of the war. But, if he had never gone to war i dont think it would of happened. The war is indirectly responsible. His inability to re-adapt into society and start his life again are what lead to his suicide. But these events only occured AFTER coming back from war. He also had to deal with the emotions from the war. He wasnt able to vocalize his feelings so he internalized him. Being depressed, his whole perception of the world changed. Even though he was back home, he hadnt fully escaped veitnam. And, the event with kiowa constantly ate away at him. I believe this is why no jobs or anything else worked out for him, he had too many things on his mind, preventing him from functioning and concentrating the way he needed to. All of these things together led to him hanging himself.

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