Question 1

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Question 1

Post  Carol Fontaine on Mon May 09, 2011 12:05 pm

The theme of the chapter "Sweetheart of the Song Tra Bong" is the consuming effect of the environment on the characters. When Fossie brings Mary Anne to Vietnam he assumes that she will simply be a comfort and a reminder of his home life. But in actuallity, he has forgotten that she will be changed by the war. Mary Anne instantly falls into the routine of war and makes herself fit into the new lifestyle just as well as she had fit into the teenage girl style at home. The purpose of this chapter is to highlight just how much the war can impact the people involved, and not in the way we would expect. Fossie assumed his girlfriend would be sleeping with other men because he was operating on the concept that she is simply a plesurable entertainment. He soon began to relize that this new culture had taken over her and she was acting more like a solider and less like a high school girl.

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Response to Carol

Post  connorbronson on Mon May 09, 2011 2:27 pm

I think that the theme of the story "Sweetheart of the Song Tra Bong" is similar to what Carol said but I think it should be: the sacrifice of war and the lasting effect it has. In the story, Fossie's girlfriend, Mary Anne, symbolizes the youth and innocence of America and more importantly, the youth and innocence that the soldiers themselves once had. The story of Mary Anne shows that the war does not prejudice, it does not pick and choose who it transforms, everyone is susceptible to it's powerful grasp and it's looming power to transform one into a different person. Even Mary Anne, the totally innocent, little high school girl is quickly consumed by the war and her child mentality is sacrificed in exchange for the heart of a tribal killer. Fossie soon comes to realize that Mary Anne is gone and she's never coming back because her experiences cannot be undone and they cannot be forgotten. Mary Anne was sacrificed, her mind if not her body, to the war and she will never be the same.

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Response to Carol

Post  John Patrikis on Mon May 09, 2011 5:52 pm

While I agree with Connor and Carol's theme of this story, I took it a little differently. Because of the fact that there were few females mentioned in the book during the war, I thought it was making clear that the war effects anyone in its presence, no matter what race or sex. While Fossie thought that having Mary Anne Bell with him would be a reminder of home and a relief as Connor stated, she was effected by the war the same, if not more than the actual soldiers. This emphasized that you don't have to technically be fighting in the war to be effected by it. Mary Anne Bell was an innocent young citizen before she entered the environment of Vietnam, then she became infatuated by her surroundings and did not want to leave. Eventually, she was found with a necklace made of human tongues around her neck performing some sort of Vietnamese tribal action. This showed how war changes everybody in its path, not excluding certain race or sex, and that people will never be the same after experiencing it.

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Response to Carol

Post  mandaababyy14 on Mon May 09, 2011 5:52 pm

The war had the ability to change both men and women. It was easy to understand that the war had the ability to change the soldiers, so bringing someone as innocent as Mary Anne Bell, would change her whole being. The idea of her being there was that she would help out with the "womanly duties" everyday instead of being caught up in the aspect of war. She behaved like a soldier by going out on an ambush defenseless and letting herself become accustomed to the land. Fossie mistook the fact that she would not be acting like the same girl she arrived as when she left. She was empowered by the everyday war activities and consequently became a part of the land. She was lost both physically and emotionally to the war which created more than just a downfall for herself.

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Reply to Carol

Post  Shannon Christensen on Mon May 09, 2011 10:14 pm

I agree. Fossie invited Mary Anne Bell because he believed she would serve as a comfort, a distraction from the war. However, like you said, he did not estimate the consuming effect the environment would have on her. The effect of Vietnam has on Mary Anne is astounding, and she quickly transforms from an innocent school girl to a girl living in the wild. I also thought the story suggested that a person cannot be part of two cultures at the same time; that one must overcome the other.

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Response to Carol

Post  autuboobaby on Mon May 09, 2011 11:50 pm

Although I agree with the students above, I too have a different outlook on the theme of this section of the novel. A prevalent theme of this novel is the focus on women, and the effect that they have on the soldiers caught in Vietnam. To some of the young men, girls are the one thing they can rely on to provide their dreams with a happy place. To others, the females of their life only cause them pain and misery as they watch them slip away. Of all the stories of women and their feminine destruction, the chapter "Sweetheart of the Song Tra Bong" is one that I felt depicted one of the most heartbreaking and brutal instances of a girl and her interaction with the soldiers in Vietnam.


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