Fleeing Reality

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A majority of the people around the world partake in leisure activities to relieve the stress of their daily lives. Few people can testify a “perfect day”. In truth, most people desire in a different way to deplete their energy on a daily basis. Children fantasize about amusing and socializing with one another, as well as setting aside time with their family. An acclaimed author, Tim O’Brien acknowledges this generality during his service in the Vietnam War, placing it at the heart of a few of his writings (“Where Have You Gone Charming Billy” 273). ”Where Have You Gone Charming Billy,” a short story by Tim O’Brien written after the Vietnam War, reveals that through the usage of characterization and symbolism, people have a natural tendency to implement escapism in order to avoid challenging situations. In Where Have You Gone Charming Billy, a short story by Tim O’Brien, the main character Paul Berlin is spending his first day in war and is utterly terrified. The tragic incident with Billy Boy Watkins brought Paul to the horrifying truths of the Vietnam War. His fellow soldiers tell him he will adapt to the stress of surviving wartime conditions as they head towards the sea. And even when they reached the water, Paul continues to remain fearful and on edge (O’Brien 198-203). O’Brien’s dynamic characterization of Paul Berlin portrays how people will tend to use escapism to deal with emotionally and physically stressful situations. Paul’s true personality is revealed as timid and easily frightened during his first night of the Vietnam War. Freelance writer Charlotte M. Freeman asserts, “Billy Boy Watkins died not from the grenade wound but as a result of his own fear. Subsequently, Paul Berlin’s understandable fear of this new life threatening situation takes on an even darker hue” (282). After Billy Boy Watkins ironically brutal death, Paul berlins war anxiety is amplified to a state of hysteria, leaving him desperate to find a way to transcend his unstable...
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