Essay on Romanticism in Tim O'Brien's Going After Cacciato

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Romanticism in Tim O'Brien's Going After Cacciato

Critics of Tim O'Brien's Going After Cacciato have examined its narrative technique (see Raymond) and its position in literature as metafiction (see Herzog). Still other critics have commented on the motif of time (see McWilliams) and the theme and structure (see Vannatta). On the last point, critics find the structure of the novel is fragmented to reveal the nature of the United States' involvement in Vietnam. Unfortunately, this fragmentation makes the novel appear structurally weak. Critics have found no unifying element to the parts to affirm the sense of wholeness readers feel after completing O'Brien's novel. Nevertheless, the reader senses that the seemingly
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Specifically, the sections demonstrate Paul Berlin's knowledge of Vietnam, of its people and, ultimately, of himself. O'Brien's use of Nature also reveals Paul Berlin's lack of knowledge, thus underscoring the United States involvement in a war that we could not win.

In the observation post chapters, the sea becomes symbolic of life and redemption. Significantly, the observation post chapters are the shortest and least frequent of the three sections in the novel simply serving as an objective vantage point to view the other sections. Paul Berlin relies on Nature, in the form of the sea, as a source of redemption:

The sea helped. It protected the back and gave a sense of distance from the war, a warm washing feeling, and a feeling of connection to distant lands. . .Sometimes, during the hot afternoon beneath the tower, he would look out to the sea and imagine using it as a means of escape." (O'Brien 43).

The action of the tides serves as a spiritual baptism, washing away the evils and the filth of the war. The sea is predictable, and that predictability lends an illusion of safety. The steady sound of the tides washing up on the beach drowns out the sounds of the war. The rising tide, the feel of the breeze coming off the water, and the "silver gleaming

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