The Sweetheart Of The Song Tra Bong, And The Things They Carried

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One war that clouds the United States with shame is the Vietnam War. The United States joining the war was an unpopular decision and was resented by many. Many stories have been told from the Vietnam war. Tim O’Brien’s The Things They Carried features the Alpha Company, a United States army unit that fought during the Vietnam War. The Vietnam War was unique because the United States drafted men to be in the army. This situation was true for some of the men in the Alpha Company, including Tim O’Brien. These men weren’t prepared for war and went into Vietnam with little experience, and this changed their lives. Many of the men in the Alpha Company missed home and having a normal life. They began to see women as a symbol of home and what they …show more content…
In the stories “The Sweetheart of the Song Tra Bong” and “The Things They Carried” there is a common idea that women symbolize both home and the effects of war, but they are presented in different ways. Both stories convey similar things because in “The Sweetheart of the Song Tra Bong” Mary Anne Bell represents home and likewise, in “The Things They Carried” Martha represents home. “The Sweetheart of the Song Tra Bong” features Mark Fossie’s girlfriend, Mary Anne Bell, who comes to visit him in Vietnam when there is minimal war action. She arrives dressed very clean and proper, with her hair done, and acting very ladylike. These were all ways that women were supposed to behave and appear in the late 1950’s to mid 1970’s. Women were seen as pure and naive, all things that the Vietnam war wasn’t. The men equated women with home because of this. In their minds, back at home there was no war and it was a peaceful and pure place. Tim thinks how “Mary Anne made you think about those girls back home, how clean and innocent they all are, …show more content…
Both Mary Anne Bell and Martha have or create a change from war. In “The Sweetheart of The Song Tra Bong”, Mary Anne Bell completely changes when she comes to visit Mark Fossie. She became interested in Vietnam and Vietnamese culture and complete transformed. Mary joined some of the men, called Greenies, who went on missions into the deep parts of Vietnam. Tim saw her transformation and recalls, “[Mary Anne] had crossed to the other side. She was part of the land... There was no emotion in her stare, no sense of person behind it… and at the girl’s throat was a necklace of human tongues”(O’Brien 110). Mary Anne Bell exhibits exactly how much war can change someone. The necklace of human tongues significantly represents how much she has changed because it is something that seems so vulgar, something she would have never done before. She was originally a “proper” young lady and after experiencing Vietnam, she was in touch with nature and lethal. Likewise, Martha also symbolizes the effects of war on someone in “The Things They Carried”, even if it is indirect. Jimmy Cross spent most of his free time obsessing over Martha. One day during one of his daydreams, Ted Lavender is shot and killed, but Jimmy Cross still can’t think of anything other than Martha when it is his job to protect his men. Tim recalls how Jimmy Cross “had loved Martha more than his men, and as a consequence Lavender

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