Question #6

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Question #6

Post  Amanda Brandi on Tue May 10, 2011 12:59 am

6. In O'Brien's experience, it was never a good idea to trust Vietnamese civilians.

I believe that this statement is incorrect. Trust, if anything, is the most important virtue out there, especially when fighting a war. Not only is is good to trust those from your country but it's even better to trust civilians in a foreign country. Think of it this way, if a friend walked into your home and asked to borrow your car or, even simpler, if your best friend wanted to know some big secret, then they'd have to do something to prove that they are trustworthy, right? You would not just give them the keys to your car or tell them something you would not want anyone else to know unless you are positive that they can be trusted. The same concept applies in The Things They Carried. If O'Brien sought to gain trust from the Vietnamese civilians, it was imperative for him to return trust to them. He knew he had to be kind to them in order for them to be kind to him.

Amanda Brandi

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Re: Question #6

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

I both agree with you, and don't agree with you at the same time, it's kind of weird. While you are right in that you need to give trust to have it given to you, I don't really think that's what Tim O'brien was thinking when he was traipsing through mine fields. I think what you're implying is an underlying theme that O'Brien put later on into his stories, but for an American Soldier in Vietnam, it's not that you should not trust any Vietnamese citizen, its that you should be wary of them.

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A reply to Amanda

Post  WillMeisner on Tue May 10, 2011 10:32 am

I do not agree with your stance that O'Brien should trust Vietnamese civilians. America was at war with the country of Vietnam. How could one tell with the utmost certainty that a villager was only a civilian, and not a soldier? Or that the civilians were never harmed by Americans at all, and did not hold a grudge? While at war, it was never a good idea for O'Brien to trust the civilians, as if they misjudged a civilian, it could cost them their lives. Trusting the man who guided them through a minefield was a risky situation, as the man could have easily led them into a trap. However, without him, the platoon would have been destroyed. The times where they need to trust civilians are rare, though, and are an outlier. In general, trusting the civilians could be deadly. In war, your only known friends are the people with the same uniform as you; anyone else could be an enemy.

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