Question 5

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Question 5

Post  KatyFernandez on Mon May 09, 2011 6:24 pm

At first, I wanted to say Mary Anne was a sort of hero in the story and not a traitor; mainly because she was so willing to engulf and accept such an odd and foreign culture. But it was that willingness that eventually made me sit here and realize she kind of IS a traitor. She didn’t necessarily betray the American boys in Vietnam, but she did betray American itself: she came to Vietnam as the typical girl shining with innocence and curiosity, but she let herself conform to a new society and turn against what she loves (Fossie) for something new and exciting (Vietnam). Her arrogance for having dropped everything at home and come to Vietnam to see Fossie shows the arrogance of America when it got itself involved in the war in 1954. They did not expect to enter territory that not only changed and mutilated them physically, but also broke them down and destroyed them mentally. Mary Anne’s treacherous actions gained momentum as she began to see less and less of Fossie and began to devote more time to Vietnam and her studying of it. The problem is, Vietnam is the enemy, and she was falling in love with it. This to me is the biggest example of her being a traitor, because she chose to stay with a culture she was so fascinated with rather than help and support Fossie and his men fight that very country.

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Response to Katy

Post  joeg3193 on Mon May 09, 2011 6:39 pm

I too feel that Mary Anne was a traitor, but for slightly different reasons, as well as her obvious betrayal of Fossie. She betrayed her entire personality; as shown by her psuedo-induction into the Green Berets, Mary Anne gave up her innocence and became what many American's feared: a war-monger. I believe that Mary Anne exemplified what was wrong with the war, and also the sheer power of what violence and power can do to people. By giving poeple power over life- by allowing them to take lives into their own hands- the war corrupted many people, and Mary Anne showed this betrayal of peace perfectly.

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Response to Katy

Post  abbgately on Mon May 09, 2011 7:43 pm

Both Katy and Joe make strong points. I agree with Katy's analysis of Mary Anne. She turned her back not only on the man she loved but also on a society that built her. She turned to the "dark-side" by pursuing the Vietnamese culture. Yet I have a hard time agreeing with Joe's perspective. I don't believe Marry Anne betrayed her personality. She definitely changed from the sweet, naive and innocent girl she once was. Yet her surroundings gave her a new perspective. By going to Vietnam, she learned a new form of culture and her surroundings changed her. This curiosity swiped Marry Anne of her innocence. Is this truly a betrayal to oneself or just the show of character growth? When we lose our naïve outlook on life, are we truly betraying ourselves?

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Re: Question 5

Post  Richard yacobellis on Mon May 09, 2011 7:59 pm

I disagree with all of your conclusion. She didn't conciously betray Fossie or the other members of the unit, she merely lost herself in the atrocious events of war. Betrayal requires a high degree of self-awareness and a realization of the ramifications of one's actions. Mary Anne possessed neither function and could not have been held fully-responsible for her actions. To be more accurate, Mary Anne seemed to be stuck between reality and her own unconcious urges. She did not want to be trapped in the war's atmosphere, but neither did she want to fully accept her unconcious. This is exemplified by Rat Kileys description of her and her actions. Thus she was locked in a internal conflict and could only act on instinct, seeking danger to feel even the slightest sign of life.

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Re: Question 5

Post  Emerie Pettit on Mon May 09, 2011 9:53 pm

I agree with most of what Katy said, but I think that instead of being a traitor, she was more of a corrupted person. I think what happened to her was supposed to symbolize war itself and how it can change a person so drastically. She became desensitized and lost her innocence from being there in Vietnam, and the soldiers experienced that too. They saw so much killing that it couldn't mean as much to them anymore. Just as Mary Anne came to the war an innocent girl, the soliders did too and then after experiencing it, their mindset changed.

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Re: Question 5

Post  autuboobaby on Mon May 09, 2011 11:36 pm

I agree with everyone above, but I also have a few details to add about Mary Anne's character. Even more than the American soldiers in Vietnam, Mary Anne Bell represents the outsider, someone who does not belong where she is. The story of Mary Anne emphasizes what happens when someone's surroundings affect her. Similar to how the "green" medic Jorgenson is apt to make mistakes, Mary Anne is greener than any man in the novel. She arrives in Vietnam not only unprepared for war but also not intending to take part in it. Her transformation from a pretty girl wearing culottes to an animal-like hunter who wears a necklace of tongues. O'Brien leaves out the conclusion to the tale about Mary Anne, instead letting her character pass into the realm of folklore. Rather than allowing us to know what becomes of someone who undergoes a violent loss of innocence, we are left wondering how war affects a person, and to what ends of time that person will continue to feel its effect. The one piece of "knowledge" that Mary Anne's story teaches us is that once innocence is lost, it can never be regained. Unlike O'Brien or Bowker, however, when Mary Anne loses her innocence, she becomes an agent of primal instinct. These instincts may effect how someone may perceive Mary Anne, whether it be someone who is a hero, or someone who is a traitor. One thing for sure, Mary Anne is one of the "truest" characters in the novel because she lives off of her emotions and slips so easily between a posture of love and one of war.

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