One of the most important and damaging themes not only in novels, but in life is that of ignorance. In war it can mean life or death, and in everyday life if you ignore the problem or person long enough it can destroy your life or the life of someone very close to you or that you are trying to protect. This is an idea that both Tim O’Brian and Carl Deuker explore in their books, The Things They Carried and Gym Candy, respectively. The fact that friendships, people’s feelings, and even human life itself may be at risk, makes it that much more important that this ignorance be found and dealt with properly so we may prevent people from being hurt
One place that ignorance can be found is in the older generations, and in their expectations for their children. For example in Gym Candy Mick’s father had always expected him not only to play football but also to be the best at it. Likewise, in The Things They Carried the fathers and grandfathers of the soldiers, most of whom had already fought in a war, expected that they enlist and serve honorably which actually meant earning metals. Though, what they didn’t realize, or in many cases couldn’t remember, was the loss that usually came along with the metal, and unfortunately it was usually someone very close to the soldier too. The fact that these things were expected and not a personal choice made it even that much harder to serve. Also, many of the soldiers felt that these horrors of war that they had witnessed, had been forced upon them by those same older generations. So even though those generations had been through hell, and all those other terrible horrors before, but many of them were much older at the time they experienced it too. During World War I the average age in the military was twenty-nine, then in World War II it dropped to twenty six, but during the Vietnam War the average age of all soldiers serving dropped between twenty-two and twenty-three years old (History and CACF(basis for the Vietnam...
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