Response to Question 1

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Post  AviHershkowitz on Mon May 09, 2011 11:07 pm

Throughout the novel O'Brien has used women multiple times for symbols unique to each of the men. In the chapter "Sweetheart of the Song Tra Bong" O'Brien uses Mary Anne as a symbol that is not unique to one man but one that has an unchanged meaning for all the soldiers. More specifically O'Brien used Mary Anne to not only to put the assumptions, made by many of the soldiers, to rest that not all women are innocient shells of a human being that serve only to please men but, to represent the lies that the men have been telling themselves. In the beginning Mary Anne seems to be the innocent bimbo that men portray her to be by asking questions relating to the war giving men the well deserving opinion that she is lacking on brains. As the story progresses the soldiers begin to see that Mary Anne is serious about learining and Eddie Diamond goes as far as saying that Mary Anne's quest for knowledge is so serious that it is scary that "this girl will most definitely learn". As she keeps learning and gaining the skills necessary for war she begins sneaking out unnoticed to fight with the Green Berets therefore leading the audience to the fact that her tongue necklace symbolizes her quest for knowledge. In an ordinary circumstance a tongue would symbolize a persons willingness to experience new foods until they find one that is just right. This can be applied to Mary Anne because she originally tried becomeing a medic then turned her interests toward the war where she felt at home and progressed at an advanced level. On another note, Mary Anne's progress in becomeing a soldier who does not show emotion and who's only goal is to get the "kill", shows the men what they have been denying all along. This face that had been pushed to the back of their heads is that they too are becomeing war machines only focused on killing which, in my opinion, is the scariest thing that they have faced during their entire time in Vietnam.


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