Born on the Fourth of July
The ending of the WWII culminated with the beginning of the cold war. The cold war was a major political and military conflict between the superpowers of America and the Soviet Union. The conflict is also an insight of the rising democracy and the attempts on removing the communism. In the 1960’s America joined the Vietnam War on the South Vietnamese side, against their opponents inspired by the communist ideology: North Vietnam, China and the Soviet Union. The Vietnam War was the escalation of the Cold War. Its purpose was to invent democracy as well as protecting the nationalism. America suffered from massive casualties and the numbers of the wounded were virtually triple. The book “Born on the Fourth of July” by Ron Kovic, depict the author himself as a returned marine soldier who was hurt in battle. The book gives the reader a personal experience and terrifying good insight of the Vietnam War close up. The main subjects of the book are patriotism, heroism, anti-war activism and betrayal by a man’s own country. I will in this essay analyze the narrator as well as making a complete characterization of Ron Kovic. Finally I will analyze the language and include the usage of symbols and imagery. The narration and the point of view are rather significant in the book as we are introduced to different narration methods. The entire story is narrated by Ron Kovic who is also the author of the book. This means that the book is high likely an authentic biography, which also make sense as the narrator includes authentic historical events, for example the assassination of John F. Kennedy. The narration is primarily in first-person, but sometimes the narration shifts to third-person. The shifting narration results in a hard understanding of the plot, and is a bit confusing. I think the shifting narration has a metaphoric meaning, because the narrator only narrates in third-person while he is in the military or fighting the war. The figurative sense could be that he loses his individual ways of acting, and instead is forced to pay attention and to obey orders. Some arguments might militate that the narrator loses his ability to express himself as a human being, and perhaps he wants to illustrate that the military makes you their puppet. This aspect can be supported by the many American casualties and the political reason of the war. The military sort of threw human lives away for no particular reason. It is clear that both of the narration methods are omniscient, as the narrator is able to describe feelings, thoughts, memories etc. but the point of view is still limited as we only are seeing aspects from the narrator himself. There are few dialogues in the text, because the narrator wants to express his feelings about the war and his injury rather than talking to other persons.
The narrator is of course close related to Ron Kovic, as they are the same person. This paragraph contains a complete characterization of Kovic. Ronald Lawrence Kovic was born on the fourth of July and was raised in Massapequa, New York. We are following Kovic from a kid to a grown up. When he was young he loved baseball, especially the New York Yankees player Mickey Mantle. Kovic also used to play warlike games with his best childhood friend Richie Castiglia. They both dreamed about joining the United States Marine Corps. Kovic was very interested in war movies. His favorite movie starring his favorite actor was “The Sands of Iwo Jima” with John Wayne. He especially liked the scene where the marines were raising the American flag on a high hill. He saw them as national heroes, and he really wanted to mimic their style. One extraordinary aspect about his childhood is his rising empathy and patriotism for his country. For example he mentions that he cries during the explosion of the American satellite “Vanguard. He also mentions that he is crying on behalf of America. This aspect gets clarified as he grows up. As a teenager Ron Kovic gained an interest in his muscular body. He began to wrestle and build his body in the gym. Besides getting stronger, he also got an interest in the opposite gender, but he had no real relation to them. His biggest desire was to be a good athlete, a good catholic and to be a hero for his country. The whole bodybuilding aspect is sort of paradoxical and ironic, because the body he put so much effort in was to no avail as he returned back as a cripple. He was convinced that he was unbeatable, but ironically, his biggest desire about joining the military was the aspect that beat him. He also appears to be a lot masculine, as he trained his body and wanted to engage in combat. This masculinity disappears when he returned home. Ron Kovic joined the Marines in 1964 at age 18, and then participated in the Vietnam War. He experienced certain inhuman events that seem to hunt him after the war. Kovic got first hit in the foot and later hit in the right shoulder, suffering from a collapsed lung and a spinal cord injury, which made him paralyzed from the chest down. He was sort of happy when he first got hit, because he was now able to go home. He obliviously hated to be in Vietnam, properly because of the terrifying things he had seen there. Kovic became even more religious when he returned home in a wheelchair, and he started to pray every night, in hope of being able to use his body again. The religious aspect also indicates his dedication and willpower as he never gives up trying. He became lonely and he had no real friends left. Besides that he had never really had a sexual life, and his opportunity to obtain that was spilled. Ron Kovic felt that his country had reacted inappropriate on his injury. His country did not pay enough to the hospitals where the wounded from the war were located, and they actually did not care for them. This aspect made Kovic into an antiwar-activist, fighting for human rights and global peace. I believe that Ron Kovic is naive. He thought that entering a war as hero and returning back as it as well were a matter of course. He had not really thought of the horrible consequences the war had as follows. This also makes him a lot brave as he just takes the plunge.
The usage of symbols and imagery an important topic to focus on, as they reveal some of messages in the book. Also the language will be worth analyzing because of its sovereignty. The language in the book is quite easy to read, throughout that a lot of the text is in a colloquial language. As the book is an authentic memoir we must suppose that all the talking statements are real too. It is mentioned that he wrote much of the book while lying at the hospital. Since the hospital was a stressful and horrible period of his life, I can conclude that some of the book had been written under pressured circumstances. This is also shown on page 70 - 72, where he narrates about being a part in the Marine Corps with a quick tempo, the usage of large letters and unfinished sentences out of context. This situation could symbolize a confused and dramatic time in the military. Throughout the book is authentic it is a little typical that Ron Kovic was born on the fourth of July, since it is date of the American Independence Day. But if we look at the figurative meaning in the date of his birthday, I think it symbolizes his patriotism and love for his country. He truly has a passion to do whatever his country demands him to do, in this case by joining them in the war against freedom. Another side of the matter is that when he returns home as a cripple, he did not fell anything towards his country expect betrayal. This aspect is a contrast towards the originally meaning, but you cannot hide from your own birthday and I think that it symbolizes that he still care about his country. When Ron Kovic was born it is mentioned that, the fourth of July started with a big firecracker. Also when he got shot the word firecracker appears again. So it literally started with a firecracker and ended with it as well. John Wayne was Ron Kovic’s favorite actor. He especially liked the scene where John Wayne raised the American flag on Iwo Jima. I think that John Wayne symbolize Kovic’s imagination of himself, but also about being a hero by serving his country. In other words the actor’s actions were the reason that Kovic wanted to fight for his country. Kovic wanted to enter the war as a hero and return as it as well, just like it happens in the movies. Kovic is also very naive to think that fiction could portray the realistic like that. I believe that the whole identity and attitude of Ron Kovic’s symbolizes that war is not going to solve anything at all. He may also symbolize that giving up is not an opportunity.
I think the book “Born on the Fourth of July” is well written and actually quite good. As I said in my introduction the book gives the reader a very good personal perspective of the Vietnam War. The book also contains a variety of life confirming aspects and morals. In this essay I have enlightened the person of Ron Kovic, by describing him as he appears in the book. I have also taken a closer look at the narration and the usage of symbols as supporting paragraphs.
[ 1 ]. http://da.wikipedia.org/wiki/Vietnamkrigen