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

The theme of the story, "Sweetheart of the Song Tra Bong" is that two cultures cannot exist simultaneously, that one will eventually overcome the other. This is shown in how the soldiers, such as Fossie, have separated themselves from Vietnamese culture, and they assume everyone is immune to it. While in a relatively safe part of Vietnam, Fossie invites his sweetheart Mary Anne Bell, to come stay with them. When she does, he, and the rest of the soldiers, assume she will serve as a comfort to them, a piece of home. However, Mary Anne Bell quickly becomes infatuated with the environment and culture and she is quickly transformed. By the end of the story, O'brien describes how she was "part of the land. She was dangerous. She was ready for the kill." Thus Mary Anne Bell reinforces the theme that one must succumb to one culture or the other, and that there is no middle ground.

Shannon Christensen

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Post  Scott Davis on Mon May 09, 2011 11:14 pm

I fully agree with your interpretation of the theme and believe this is a very well thought out response. I had a very similar interpretation of the theme as well when it comes to the story "Sweethear of the Song Tra Bong". The only detail you may have overlooked is the symbolism behind the necklace of tongues. The necklace of tongues was a key piece when it comes to this specific theme. The tongues represent consumption, both by the jungle and by Mary Anne Bell. The jungle's wild nature consumes Mary Anne Bell and transforms her into this new culture, seperate of Americans. Meanwhile, Mary Anne Bell consumes the culture of the Vietnamese and displays that through her tribal symbols and her necklace of tongues.

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