In the history of mankind there have always been wars. It has been the good against the evil, and the right against the wrong. Twice, all nations have taken part in choosing sides in devastating World Wars. America has had her share of wars. All wars have helped to shape America in to what she is today. She has taken part in other skirmishes (Vietnam) that are still being debated as to whether we should really have joined in or if we should have just minded our own business. Because of its effect it has on the men that come home from war, I think people have such a hard time trying to comprehend the meaning of war. Bobbie Ann Mason found a way to weave the lives affected into a believable yet predictable plot in her first novel, In Country. In the novel, the main character helps to reveal the hardships that happen after the war is over. The plot follows the quest of Samantha Hughes, a 17-year-old girl whose father died in Vietnam shortly before she was born. After hearing a commencement speaker given by a Methodist speaker talk about the significance of self-sacrifice of the men of this nation, she yearns to not only know more about her father, but what it was like to be in combat. Her mother moved away when she was younger, and she now lives with her Uncle Emmett, her mother's brother, who is a Vietnam vet. He is neither physically nor psychologically able to handle such a task and through time the tables are turned and she now takes care of her out of work uncle. Emmet comes down with skin problems and Sam blames it on Agent Orange, a chemical used during the conflict. "Emmett's possible contamination with Agent Orange becomes a blunt, obvious metaphor for the insidious consequences of Vietnam" (Kakutani C20).
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