Plot Summary: Private Paul Berlin arrived newly at the Americal Centre combat centre in Chu Lai in June 3, 1968 . which is the single largest unit in Vietnam. It was by the sea. His hair was cut immediately on arrival. .Training started from the next day for all the new arrivals of 50 Training consisted of simulated search and destroys missions, pitching practice grenades, reading compass, identifying landmines and other survival methods. Paul was surprised by the constant cursing at the camp.
The Americal Division was huge and consisted of three infantries which were broken down into Battalions and they were further broken down into companies , then platoons and smallest was a squad.. On the seventh day Paul was assigned to the 5th battalion, 45 infantry. Paul grew nostalgic and thought about a camping trip he had gone with his father when he was small. Next day he went to join his assigned battalion. One e-8 indirectly offered to get him an easy job in exchange for bribes. When Paul nodded, he was told that there was no easy job at the camp.
Seeing the paddy fields and mountains Paul felt at home here. He found various writings on the latrine wall to which he added his own. Paul’s first Platoon leader was Lt Sidney Martin who died soon . He was not considered wise as he liked to follow the rules. Later Lt. Corson took over and he took care not to jeopardize the men’s lives unnecessarily and he was loved by the men.. The camp was structured not only around personalities but also around superstition. Oscar Johnson was the sergeant and he was considered a leader since he was able to survive the jungle for 9 months.
Each man was assigned their special tasks based on heir aptitude . The rules required the tunnels to be searched before blowing. But the men usually violated this rule and Lt. Martin was disliked because he struck to the rules and endangered the men’s lives. On the eighth day Paul was sent to the war zone by helicopter. This was considered his First day of War. .A. Characterization: The characterization was done beautifully. The main protagonist, Paul Berlin was a simple guy who was a little afraid of the war. He was a loner and homesick at first .
He was not comfortable in the jungles. All the men in the camp were stressed out and used swear words to stimulate the new recruits. The youngest recruit Uhlander was frightened of the war and thought that it was evil. Lt Sidney Martin was a stickler for rules while Lt. Corson considered his own and his men’s interests more important than following the rules. Sgt, Oscar Johnson was knowledgeable about the jungles. Stink Harris had scouting abilities and was considered proud. B. Theme or message: The theme is anti Vietnam war and the uselessness and horrors of the war.
C. Symbols . When the Corporal on the first day did not speak a word and told them it was a lecture for survival, it symbolized that there was no survival tactic at all . When the NCO said that boomer meant Paul was dead, it symbolized that he had stepped on a landmine. Paul considering himself as the little bear in the camping trip symbolized the fact that he was very young t the time and frightened of being in the jungle. All the inscriptions in the wall of the latrine symbolized the fact that the writers were all afraid of the war and death. D.
Point of View The author’s point of view was opposition to the Vietnam war and its unnecessary death of young men. E. Structure: The structure is dreamlike fantasy in quality. The author applied The critical theory Approach to malign the Vietnam war as unjust. F. Setting- . The emptiness of the blue sea and sand and the clean smell of the wind together with the pleasant weather led the men to believe that everything was peaceful. The peaceful villages also led to the same conclusions. They could not believe that there could be minefields in the sand. Paul however felt homesick.
I was only when he saw the paddy fields and mountains that he felt at home. III. Rhetorical Strategies-It is a rhetorical battleground strategy based on imagology. There is a merger of reality and fantasy. B. Diction- O Brien used different language in different chapters to differentiate the different characterization of each chapter and situations. Syntax: The language and syntax in it produce a seductive rhythm which forces the reader to participate in the story . Tone and Attitude: There was a sense of fantasy and the lush intensity of its prose enabled one to understand the enormity of Vietnam. .
Style: The style was surrealistic and mystical and is a mixture of fantasy and reality. It is unique in the way it counterpoints the gritty realism of combat against a dreamklike state. Imagery: The imagery used was truly awesome. The quiet and peaceful sea and sand typified the fact that the war seemed quit ad peaceful. The peace that Paul felt while looking at the hills and the mountains and the warmth inside gave a sense of visual imagery to the world of combat. .Sounds: The words and sounds of the swearing and cursing in the chapter gave a sense of the urgency of war and the danger inherent in it.
Irony- Tim O’Brien’s writing is crisp, authentic an grimly ironic . The irony of saying nothing on the first day by the Corporal signified that no survival tactic would be helpful at all. The little girl in the Vietnamese village asking if he was shitting her was ironic as the Americans were at war with the Vietnamese. The fact that Paul remembered his childhood Camp trip with his father with such fright was ironical since he was now truly in the middle of war and this is what is more frightening. Also the Lt. who was a stickler for following the rules died very soon seems deeply ironical as rules were meant to help and protect the men. Paradox: The paradox of the peaceful situation of the surrounding consisting of the sand, the blue sea and the wind was in contrast to he cruelties of the war that was going on round Vietnam. Flashback: The flashback of his camp trip with his father when Paul was young denoted the fact that he was not comfortable in the wilds. He only felt more at ease in the trappings of civilizations.