The Masquerades of War

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William Westmoreland proclaims, "War is fear cloaked in courage." Tim O'brien, Lily Lee Adams, and Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. composed literary works that disclose the different degrees of fear and absurdity aroused by war. "Where Have You Gone, Charming Billy?", "The Friendship Only Lasted A Few Seconds", and "The Declaration of Independeance From the War in Vietnam" each express characters who encounter war in varying yet mutual ways. The characters from each composition endure the troubles of war either inside or outside of the battle field. The writings intertwine into a stream of consciousness as fear, false facade, and hope for humanity blend the three pieces of literature together.

"Falsehood is easy; truth so difficult," George Eliot announces. This remains true for both the cases of Paul Berlin and the nurse from Lily Lee Adams' poem. Private First Class Paul Berlin "was pretending he was not in the war, pretending he had not watched Billy Boy Watkins die of a heart attack that afternoon. He pretended he was not a soldier" (622). The soldier bears a severe weight of fear inside him when he witnesses the death of a cohort in the war who dies of a heart attack. Although Berlin remains uneasy and faces a constant attack of cowardice, he curtains this and replaces his fear with a guise of bravery. In the poem by Lily Lee Adams, the nurse also withstands fear while she ponders, "How can the world understand any of this?" She doubts that she "can keep the world from forgetting" the lives that slowly fade as she holds them during their last seconds of living (629). Unlike Paul Berlin, the nurse does not pretend, but she becomes whoever she needs to be for the dying soldiers. She becomes a mother, she represents Mary, she turns into a friend even though "the friendship only lasted a few seconds." "I never lied," expresses the nurse; however, Berlin continues to pretend that "In the morning, when they reached the sea, it would be better" (622). The...
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