On The Rainy River By Tim O Brien: An Analysis

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An individual must not be restricted by their desires in life, or allow others to enforce beliefs or lifestyles on them. People need to have the liberty to follow their interests in life, however this is something that most of us do not obtain. These interests can vary from having the freedom to choose between worshipping God or Buddha, to choosing to pursue a specific career in life. The restrictions that we put on our lives not only affect us, yet those around us as well. In the text On the Rainy River written by Tim O’Brien, we explore the life of O’Brien and the significance when an individual attempts to live unconstrained by his circumstances. Tim was a young man who was forced to fight in the Vietnam war, but refused and fled from his …show more content…
Even as Tim tried to lean forward and swim to shore, he saw all the eyes of people from his town and did not want to feel embarrassed. He began to hear an audience screaming, calling him a “traitor” and a “turncoat.” In this moment he decided to go to war and accept the fact that there was a high chance of him dying and putting his own “precious fluids on the line.” He made this decision because he knew that it wouldn’t embarrass him in the face of his community. When he was sitting on the boat, he had a “moral freeze.” He says, “I couldn’t decide, I couldn’t act, I couldn’t comport myself with even a pretense of modest human dignity.” This shows that he grew up with the impact of his family and townspeople that he was not able to make his own decision, and follow through with it. He forgot why he left home in the first place because of the comments he heard. It controlled him. Tim went to war and thankfully survived. Although his parents might have been proud of his decision, he does not consider this a happy ending. He exclaims, “I was a coward. I went to the war.”
Overall, the decisions that an individual makes affects them and those surrounding them. It is up to the individual to stay focused and do what pleases them, not their loved ones. Tim ran away from his hometown, and yet he was not able to allow himself to go through with his plan because of the conflict he had with himself and others. Even though people saw him as a righteous man who defended his country, he saw himself as a coward. The opinions of others may lead to the right path, but it can bring guilt and shame for a

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