Young Man in Vietnam

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“Young Man in Vietnam” by Charles Coe goes against the 1980 patriotic views of Vietnam veterans, as he positions readers to be sympathetic towards veterans. Through the use of characterisation and symbolism Coe has positioned readers to be sympathetic towards the young man in Vietnam.

Firstly, the use of the character’s narration readers is swayed into sympathising the character. Through the use of the character’s narration readers begins to understand the sentimental value of the letter. “You remember the taste of salt water in your mouth how cold the wind felt until you dried off. You remember talking to Peggy... You remember how her soft hands was” Through this narration readers begin to understand that the letters bring him back to his past into a fantasy. However the fantasy is often interrupted by reality leaks dripping on him, which the readers sympathises the character for. Similarly, the character’s action is evidence that the character has grown frustrated towards reality. “You want to hold her very badly... you sit up suddenly startled. Another leak. You get up and kick your foot locker but the leak doesn’t stop.” The transition between fantasy and reality is evidently has an impact on the character when he kicks the foot locker in frustration. Through the characters narration and action readers have grown sympathetic for the character, readers have understood the sentimental value of the letter and sympathises the fact that his fantasy of his past is constantly interrupted.

Secondly, through the use of actions of the character and symbolism Coe has position readers to be sympathetic towards the character. “ You look pass as the men carry the body pass you. You realise you have been holding Peggy’s letter in your left hand the whole time. The ink hopelessly blurred. You crumpled it into a ball and dropped it into the mud and begin to walk back to your tent. The character’s action is symbolic for two things one of which relates to the...
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