On The Road Not Taken Analysis

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Pacing along a jagged, clandestine terrain, an escapee from a prison camp is forced to make a fateful decision whether to travel one path or the other. Taking a particular path could suggest freedom or death. As well, like Robert Frost’s poem, “The Road Not Taken,” the speaker reflects on taking the less taken path, and believes he will reflect in the future that his choice was both life-altering and controversial. Tim O’Brien’s short story, “On the Rainy River” discusses the reluctance of fighting in war, and explores a person’s internal struggle. Despite an effort to follow one’s own beliefs, when faced with a situation that requires them to conform with the opinions of society, the fear of embarrassment and shame due to a perceived reality …show more content…
Earlier in the summer of 1968, O’Brien worked at meat-processing plant in his town, which is in contrast to the renowned university he has enrolled in. This metaphor extends to the war, where the assembly line associates to the draft machine that sends soldiers to war and ultimately, some are killed. As well, the “stink” of pig cannot escape him “even after a hot bath,” implying the detrimental psychological effect of war. As his “conscience and instinct” suggest for him to “make a break for it,” O’Brien impetuously travels north towards Canada, but stops at the Tip Top Lodge, where he spends six days considering the conflicting choices. He imagines “finishing up a letter” to his parents explaining the decision he has decided to make and is “ashamed” of doing the right thing. Once again, the fear of the disappointment of his parents causes him to revoke his thoughts of staying to his morals and principles. Consequently, he senses the “hot, stupid shame” holding him back from escaping to freedom, because he does not want to let down his family name, and his townspeople to think negatively of him. This instance causes O’Brien to begin to submit to societal beliefs and to reject his own educated …show more content…
Aboard a “little aluminum boat” yards away from the coast of Canada, he tries to “will [himself] overboard,” but his own mind--pressured by the expectations and concepts of patriotic individuals holds him back from jumping. O’Brien discusses the guilt of fighting in a war and killing other human beings against the morality of avoiding the draft, yet his community acts as a moral clout that eliminates his oppression to war. Furthermore, he refers to the day he departs the Tip Top Lodge as “cloudy.” His future, filled with remarkable uncertainty is no longer as bright as he thought it would be. Most importantly, his life and fate now remains determined by combat and violence. After his participation in the Vietnam War, he returns home and considers himself to be a “coward.” This paradox highlights that despite his bravery by placing himself in the middle of a war, his cowardly acts come from the inability to accept a perceived reality of embarrassment, and maintaining his own principles and beliefs. O’Brien lives the rest of his life accompanied by the guilt of not doing what he thought was right for himself.
Therefore, O’Brien’s short story, “On the Rainy River” depicts a person’s hesitance in participating in a violent combat, and discusses the speaker’s internal dilemma. The story articulates that despite an individual’s

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