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Post  Scott Davis on Mon May 09, 2011 10:55 pm

The native and wild world of Vietnam is a place of completely different and nearly incomprehensible culture by Americans. The theme of the story "Sweetheart of the Song Tra Bong" is that people of these two seperate cultures can never mesh cohesively. One can never combine the two cultures, they must forever stay seperate. One must chose between either the seemingly barbaric culture of the native world of the Vietnamese or the supposedly civilized world of Americans.
Throughout the story, the reader is introduced to the characters of Mark Fossie and Mary Anne Bell. Both Mark Fossie and Mary Anne Bell become either the epitome of someone who resists the barbaric culture of the Vietnamese or someone who falls victim to the barbaric culture of the Vietnamese. From the instant of her arrival, Mary Anne Bell is intrigued by her surroundings. Mary Anne Bell is so intrigued that she even goes so far as to venture into the barbaric jungle and soon becomes overwhelmed with its vastly different culture. Mary Anne Bell becomes enthralled with the jungle, so much so that she falls in love with it and embraces its very existance. Soon enough, Mary Anne Bell becomes the very epitome of the Vietnames culture by developing her own sanctuary to worship it. When Mary Anne Bell is discovered surrounded by tribal symbols and other forms of Vietnamese culture, it is clear she has resigned herself from the culture of Americans and transfered to the culture of the Vietnamese. The most important indicator is the neclace made entirely of tongues. The tongues are there to symbolize consumption. The consumption of Mary Anne Bell into the jungle and Mary Anne Bell's consumption of Vietnamese culture.
Opposite Mary Anne Bell, Mark Fossie is someone who is able to resist the culture and barbaric nature of the Vietnamese and reside within the lines of American culture. Mark Fossie attempts to understand Mary Anne Bell's perspective on the war and the culture of the Vietnamese; however, it is still incomprehensible to him. Mark Fossie remains fixed on American society and its values. Mark Fossie has a desire to live a life of normality: get married, have children, live in a small quiet town filled with peace. The culture of the Vietnames renders Mark Fossie's ability to interpret behavior useless.
The clash of two completely seperate cultures leaves one virtually powerless in combining them. It is clear that the theme of "Sweetheart of the Song Tra Bong" is that one cannot mesh the cultures of the barbaric Vietnamese with the civilized Americans. That one must either be consumed by the nature of the Vietnamese or resist it entirely.

Scott Davis

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Post  RyanHarring on Tue May 10, 2011 2:29 am

Hey Scott,
I honestly didn't think of the two opposing sides as a theme, and I actually like that much better than the theme I came up with. When I was reading the chapter, I kept on thinking of the title, "The Sweetheart Song of Tra Bong," or more specifically, the song part, and related it back to the siren from greco-roman mythology, how the jungle sang it's siren "song", seducing Mary Anne into it's depths. My theme would have ended up being something like the ills of falling to your baser desires, or something to that effect.


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