Key Question #11 The Rainy River questions and answers
1. I was surprised at how much I actually enjoyed this story. Not only did it give some fascinating insight into the mind of a man forced to go to war, but he explained his argument with such eloquence and passion that I found myself thoroughly intrigued. The way he describes having to face the draft and the terrifying obstacles that seemed to crop up out of nowhere, really makes me think and try to put myself in his position. I would not know what to do with myself, honestly, it’s such a complicated moral dilemma, choosing between your own best interests and upholding your patriotic expectation to stand up for your country. I found this story to be really moving and I actually read through it a few times; it’s something I will not forget anytime soon. I recall reading O’Brien’s work before, The Things They Carried, but this really hit home for me; I had a whole new outlook on situations like that; I guess I was ignorant to the reality of it all before. I think the language choice throughout is part of why I felt it so touching, O’Brien is able to connect with his reader through sophisticated vocabulary, which is an author’s most powerful tool to utilize in my opinion.
2. Why did the narrator not want to go to war?
This is a very broad question, and the narrator’s reasoning was deep; why should he, or America as a whole for that matter, put himself in harms way to help those who do not want help? I believe the author feels like America is meddling in places they it does not belong, and that is one of his major problems with this war. He says he would be all for sacrificing himself for something “as glorious as overthrowing Hitler” (Imprints, pg. 145), but he feels it is not their place to get involved in this war. Lastly, the narrator is very intelligent, as he mentions his graduating Macalester College, and possibly pursuing Harvard as graduate school; he feels he has more sophisticated tasks in...
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