"When we first got here--all of us--we were real young and innocent, full of romantic bullshit, but we learned pretty damn quick” (97). This quote was extracted from the book The Things They Carried by Tim O'Brien, and exemplifies the power that the war had in exploiting one's innocence. The Vietnam War drastically altered the soldiers’ American Dreams due to the great abundance of evil which was celebrated throughout the war. One thing that could be agreed on is that lives of the soldiers introduced would never possess the same vivacity and optimism found prior to serving.
Mark Fossie’s girlfriend symbolizes everything good about the United State of America. With her pink sweater and culottes, she is the All-American girl with an American Dream. “Mary Anne and Fossie had been sweethearts since grammar school and since sixth grade on they had known for a fact that someday they would get married, live in a house near Lake Erie, and have three children, That was the plan” (95). The chapter “Sweetheart of Song Tra Bong” examines the transformation that occurs when this innocent girl is lifted out of the Cleveland suburbs and plunked down in the mountains of Vietnam. The events of the war and the eerie silence of the mountain jungles have a hypnotic effect on the young teenager. As she learns how to clamp off arteries and assemble an automatic rifle, she starts to lose the innocence that Mark loves so much about her. Not only did her transformation occur internally, it manifested in her external appearance."No cosmetics, no fingernail filling. She stopped wearing jewelry, cut her hair short and wrapped it in a green bandana. Hygiene became a matter of small consequence"(98). Here she is taking on masculine features and her feminine ways are forgotten. Eventually, she sheds her youthful dreams of getting married immediately after Mark’s return. Finally she separates from him completely. The jungle has an even more radical effect on her character. After going out on...
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