It seems that all fears are based on illusion and future thinking. The future is unpredictable, and few have the courage to go explore the unpredictable. In the story “On the Rainy River”, Tim O’Brien, which is the author of the story as well, receives his draft notice to fight in the Vietnam War. The war seems wrong to him, and the fear of the uncertainty of its outcomes determine O’Brien to resist making a decision about whether to go to war or flee. Indeed, the interplay between fear and foresight is a predominant theme in this essay. “On the Rainy River” suggests that fear is a powerful motivating factor when faced with a life altering decision.
People’s choices are easily influenced because society judges us upon our actions. O’Brien’s family pressures him to go to war, causing him to feel guilty about doing something against his principles. At the same time, he feels guilty since he thinks about fleeing to Canada. “I feared the war yes, but I also feared exile”. Tim doesn’t want to fight a war that he thinks it is unjust, but he doesn’t to be viewed as a coward. “All those eyes on me - the town, the whole universe - and I couldn’t risk the embarrassment”. In the end, even though he tries to run away, he goes to war, but admits he did it for the wrong reasons. “I was a coward. I went to war.” The fear that society might treat him shamefully causes Tim to make a choice that he does not agree with.
One’s relationships with other people often may affect one’s decision. During the summer, when Tim starts thinking seriously about fleeing to Canada, a major factor influencing his decisions is the fear that he might lose the respect of his family and friends. He imagines the people he knows gossiping about him in the local café: “and it was easy to imagine people sitting around a table down at the old Gobbler Café on Main Street […] the conversation slowly zeroing in on the young O’Brien kid, how the damned sissy had taken off to Canada”. When Elroy...
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