Character Analysis Of Mary Anne Bell

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Mary Anne Bell is the only female character in Tim O’Brien’s novel “The Things They Carried”, who was physically present in the Vietnam War. She originally came to Vietnam to visit her boyfriend medic Mark Fossie. Mary Anne arrives dressed typically for an American girl, wearing “white culottes and this sexy pink sweater” (p.90) and attracts all of the man around her with her “bubbly personality and a happy smile” (p.95). Soon enough Mary Anne proves to be a “non typical American girl” she adapts to the environment in Vietnam quickly and starts to act like regular soldier. Her personality characteristics helped her: she happened to be an inquirer, - expressing interest to things around her, and a quick learner- mastering new war skills. She …show more content…
While trying something new, people discover whether it is interesting to them and whether they are talented in these things or not. The war gave Mary Anne opportunities to try out and learn something new, and since Mary Anne was an inquirer and a quick learner, she easily adapted to the surroundings and found out that she actually liked doing some of the things she learned. The war “intrigued her”(p.96), says the storyteller of the chapter where Mary Anne arrives in Vietnam “Sweetheart of the Song Tra Bong” Rat Kiley, who is one of the medics/soldiers in the novel. She found out that she had “a real knack” (p.98) for some of the things she learned in the war, like using the weapon. Enjoying the new-learned skills in the war, she declared “Everything I want is right here” and that she enjoyed being there: “Never been happier in her life. Never” (P.99). She gradually realizes, what is her real passion, she enjoys being in Vietnam, because it’s a chance to self-reflect. “When I’m out there at high, I feel close to my own body, I can feel my blood moving”, “I know exactly who I am. You can’t feel like that anywhere else” (P.111). In Vietnam, Mary Anne learns new skills that lead her into discovering her interests and her own self, which make her visit in Vietnam meaningful and …show more content…
It is mentioned in the novel that for many soldiers, war was not a free choice – They were forced to go to Vietnam and fight. The author himself describes his experience in Vietnam as it follows: “I was drafted to a war I hated” (p.40). Mary Anne however, chose to come to Vietnam, and later she even choses to stay there. She was not forced to be in the war and therefore she was free of the frames. Although her boyfriend encouraged her to go back to America a few times, Mary Anne refused. As soon as Mary Anne finds out that she has a talent for some of the things she does in Vietnam, she starts to feel a more confident. “There was a new confidence in her voice, a new authority in the way she carried herself.” (p.98). Mary Anne started to follow her own inner voice, that told her to act as she liked. Certain in her persona and in her abilities, which she strengthened in Vietnam, Mary Anne decides to “go in the hills” and “disappear”. This can be viewed as the symbol of breaking away from the old “American”, “girly”, social responsibilities she had always had- what society was expecting from her. In Vietnam, she started following her new self, Self-actualize, which seems to be the mot important in her

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