Literature Essays & Paper Examples

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If I Die In A Combat Zone, Box Me Up And Ship Me Home Research Paper

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There weren't many main characters in "If I die in a combat zone, box me up and ship me home." The main character was Tim O'Brien, who also wrote the book. He is an enlisted soldier in Vietnam. He is from southern Minnesota, and is against war, when there is no good cause for it. During his time in boot camp O'Brien wanted so badly to escape and knew there was nothing that could stop him. He would have to move to Sweden, but it would beat fighting in the war, dying for the Vietnamese. He had gone to the library and read books and magazine articles on how to escape and it seemed so easy from this point on, but the reason he stayed was that he did not want to disgrace his family. His father fought in the navy, O'Brien's mother was a WAVE, or woman in the Navy. He came from a small town, and everyone knew each other, and If he ran away, they would be disgraced, too. Captain Johansen was O'Brien's Commanding Officer. He would talk with O'Brien, like a real man. O'Brien held Johansen in high regard for his courage. Mad Mark was O'Brien's platoon leader, a first lieutenant and a Green Beret. He was not called Mad Mark for being a fanatic or a gung-ho soldier; he was a professional soldier who showed no fear. O'Brien respected Mad Mark for his skill as a soldier; the fact that he carried a shotgun was reasoning enough for the respect he received. Erik is O'Brien's friend in the army. They discussed poetry, philosophy, and travel. They both were pacifists, but Erik also talked about soldiering. When the day came to separate, Erik was sent off to be a transportation clerk, and O'Brien went off to advanced infantry training. The soldiers in this story are all the same in O'Brien's eyes, for the most part. He hated them, and thought of them as boors and bullies. The biggest event in the book for O'Brien is when, in 1968, he was drafted into the army. Right before he left for the bus, his father realized he wasn't supposed to leave until the next morning. When he did leave, he left behind his family, thinking it was the last time he would ever see them. The next event in his life was when he was sent off to advanced infantry training; when, right before he was sent to Vietnam, he had a plan to dodge the draft and live in Sweden. He went to Seattle on sick leave, and was about to leave for a bus to Canada, when he decided not to go, because he would humiliate his family. When he arrived in Vietnam, O'Brien was given the option to re-up, or sign up for two years of service; but the time would be easy. O'Brien did not re-up. He was then assigned to Alpha Company, where he first waited for them to come back for rest, and then he spent his first month in Vietnam on the beach, doing a few ambushes, and watching for a rocket attack on Chu Lai. In April, the company moved out and they all lived on a pile of red sand they called LZ Minuteman. The days were hot, and they spent their time either waiting for re-supply ships, or spending time with the locals. There was an old blind man who gave the men water. The theme in "If I die in a combat zone" is that war is not a good thing, and that is the same theme as "Johnny got his gun". However, in Glory, the story was about the "Glory" of dying in battle. The most obvious similarity in these books was that they are all about the horrors of war. "Johnny got his gun" is a completely anti-war fiction book. Joe Bonham was drafted, and nearly killed, and became a vegetable. Tim O'Brien was a young man out of college who was drafted, and, while objecting to the war, participated in it. One event in this book that was in this book was the My Lai massacre, which we discussed early in the year. This war crime compares with the burning of the town in "Glory". However, the burning of the town was part of the Union's war of attrition, while My Lai was over Charlie Company's aggression toward the VC. The feeling was common, and many other platoons probably would have done the same exact thing. A common theme in "If I die in a combat zone" and "Johnny got his gun" was the anti-war theme. Trumbo expressed his feelings through Joe Bonham, while O'Brien expressed his feelings through himself in "If I die in a combat zone." I think that this book, "If I die in a combat zone…" was the most memorable historical view of history. I think this maybe because it is the most recent event in history. Also, it is the most true story I have read in this class, because it is really a biography of the writer, Tim O'Brien. His descriptions of the war are horrifying, and probably very accurate. I feel he is right in his belief that war is bad, because war is bad, in my point of view. I guess all I could say is that every war book or books that are written, either anti-war of pro-war have a sense of courage in them. Maybe it's the fact that you find courage in the war. Since Tim O'Brien had been a hometown boy, he had his hometown sweetheart, yet to only lose her when going to war. True, his father fought in the Pacific and met a wonderful woman, his mother, but would O'Brien? Would he even survive through the long nights of waiting for the VC to strike first? War is a thing of wonder. It's a question of what it gives you. I wonder if the men who fought in the Revolutionary war had had courage in battle. They had to, having thousands of trained soldiers attacking; fighting to oppress the colonists, the colonists fighting oppression. But if they ever questioned it, would we be here today? If it wasn't for the courage our fore-fathers showed, there wouldn't have been a civil, possibly world, or Vietnam war, or an America for that matter. Lastly, the men in all three of the war books we read this year never asked for or wanted what they were fighting for. In the Civil War, we fought for the freedom of an entire race, which could have been resolved without violence. World War One was fought to "Make the World Safe For Democracy", but why make people live in a democracy if they don't want to? The Vietnam War accomplished nothing- we never declared war in the first place. In the end, did we win? In my view, no. We lost thousands of American lives just so we could get rid of a few communists. Our Constitution says that people have the freedom of thought/ religion. However, I guess that doesn't apply to people outside the US.

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