Challenge Statement #7

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Challenge Statement #7

Post  Marina Shehata on Sun May 08, 2011 6:22 pm

This statement states that Norman Bowker enjoyed his life after the war, but that's entirely incorrect. "Speaking of Courage" is a chapter explaining Bowker's life after the war. After reading it, it was obvious that he wanted to go back even though the war had ended. As the chapter begins, Bowker drives around the lake numerous times in one day. He felt responsible for the death of his friend, Kiowa. Throughout the chapter, Bowker always spoke to his father about he could have won the silver star medal if he had saved his buddy. In the chapter "Notes," O'brien received letters from Bowker about how jobs did not last for him for more than ten weeks. In the letters, Bowker told O'brien how he dropped out of community college for the reason that the work "seemed too abstract, too distant, with nothing real or tangible at stake." It stated how he spent his mornings in bed, how he played basketball at the Y during the afternoons, and how he would go cruising around town. In the end, Bowker hung himself at the Y. He pitied himself and how his life was turning. He probably believed that he belonged at war because throughout these two chapters, he referenced Vietnam and conflicts. All in all, Bowker completely did not enjoy his life after the war.

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Response

Post  connorbronson on Mon May 09, 2011 1:04 pm

I agree with most of your assertions. One thing I would like to add though, is the quote, "[Community college] seemed too abstract, too distant, with nothing real or tangible at stake." This has a very deep, symbolic meaning. When Bowker says this, he reveals his views on the "real" world as opposed to Vietnam. He shows us that he sees nothing as urgent, nothing has real value to him unless it's life or death. Norman Bowker had adjusted to the harsh requirements and the dire decisions required in a war environment and the culture shock he suffered when he reentered his home country was too much for him to handle alone. Thus, when he was unable to relieve himself of the burden of his stories, he relieved himself of his life. The line "nothing real or tangible at stake" validates the assumption that he assimilated to the war and could not figure out how to readjust.

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Response to Marina

Post  Swayze Page on Mon May 09, 2011 1:56 pm

I agree with the points that are made by both Marina and Connor but I also want to acknowledge the possibility that he did enjoy his life after the war. All the support says things that he did not like. Connor mentioned that he did not like community college and Marina mentioned how he could not hold a job. I just want to say that those things did not make him happy because of what he experienced in the war. But Connor mentioned how he played basketball at the Y. For him this was a way for him to escape the memories of war and just be himself. For the car rides around the lake this served the same purpose in my opinion. During these methods of escape he could have experienced a brief feeling of bliss. He could have enjoyed life during these times. However, I do concede that the majority of the time he was not happy and did not enjoy his life. This assertion can be qualified by the numerous support that both Connor and Marina showed in their responses. However, the point of my response was that at some points in his life after the war he could have been happy and experienced a moment of bliss, though the majority was that of unhappiness.

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Re: Challenge Statement #7

Post  KatyFernandez on Mon May 09, 2011 6:58 pm

Like everyone said, the statement for this question was absolutely wrong. Bowker seemed to be the one who carried the heaviest burdens of war memories, and it really got to him. When people have a problem or went through something tough, they want to be able to talk about it; bottling something painful up inside isn't healthy because you'll eventually blow up with all that emotion. And that's virtually what happened to Bowker. He had no outlet, no one wanted to listened to his war stories and let him vent and just talk. He came back home and it was as if he hadn't spend so many years watching people die and experience hardships completely other worldy to Americans; his life after the war was anything but enjoyable. And the only way Bowker could release the stress and pain of his memories was to get rid of them by killing himself. And despite what Swayze says about his escape with basketball, I think he realized that he can't play ball 24/7 to escape the memories, so the short happiness he got from that also died soon too.

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Post  colerockwell on Tue May 10, 2011 12:41 am

I also agree with Marina's assertion. Bowker most definetly did NOT enjoy life after the war. However i think it was because he simply could not go back to the mundane life outside of war. He could not tell people about what happened. They could not understand what he saw, the guilt he felt for Kiowa's death and the burden of mental trauma at the sight of the horrors of war. How could he go back to community college classes and work days after seeing what he did and carrying so much emotional baggage. Every day he drove around a lake and thought about bringing himself to tell someone about the things he had seen. He could not finish school, could not keep a job, no love life. Bowker had nothing, and did not know how to readjust to find something worth living for, so taking his own life was the only option.

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