Breaking Point For Men in Phillip Caputo's A Rumor of War Essay

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War is an entity that not only physically tears apart soldiers and countries, but also a force that shatters soldiers and civilians psychologically. The arduous physical conditions, the close proximity to death, and the hysteria in difficult situations play on soldiers’ minds and slowly push them to a breaking point. In Philip Caputo’s A Rumor of War, we see the effects of war and the conditions of war as told by 2nd Lieutenant Philip Caputo. In the novel, we saw a steady buildup of anxiety and confusion as the soldiers were faced with an invisible enemy and struggled with the mixed signals from those in command. This steady buildup developed into a psychological degradation that converted the soldiers into cold killers who could not …show more content…
Viet Cong forces eluded capture from the Marines by enmeshing themselves in the throes of the jungle and integrating themselves in the South Vietnamese civilian and armed forces. Elusive enemies stripped the soldiers of their sense of security and forced them to come to terms with the harsh realities of war. The soldiers “learned what fear feels like and what death looks like…” (Caputo 95) and their growing sense of vulnerability had severe psychological implications on the soldiers. From the phantom menace that the Viet Cong provided to the loss of invincibility, the soldiers were pushed into a corner where their psychological tensions and anxiety built up as the war raged on. Fear of a hidden enemy coincided with rising death tolls and slowly caused the soldiers to breakdown and become cold-hearted and ruthless. When Caputo has his first violent fantasy, he realized it as “a hint that [he] was breaking down under the strains and frustrations peculiar to that war” (Caputo 255). Enemy death tolls rose slowly as opposed to Vietnamese civilian lives and the soldiers thirsted for a chance at retribution for the loss of their friends in combat. They had “sunk from the lofty idealism” (Caputo 311) and were killing to gain revenge. All of the accumulated tensions and fears of war shattered into a thirst to retaliate against the Viet Cong and converted the soldiers into ruthless killers.
Commanding officers also aggravated the fears and insecurity on

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