Monday, January 25, 2010

"On the Rainy River" from The Things They Carried

In this chapter, O'Brien is getting cold feet about being drafted into the war. He seriously considered running away to Canada and had many good reasons for it. He considered himself "too good" for the war. He thought that being in this war destroyed the plan for how he thought his life would unfold. I really enjoyed this chapter because it showed O'Briens' honesty and humility. The one thing that is keeping him from running away is that he "... feared exile. I was afraid of walking away from my own life, my friends and my family, my whole history, everything that mattered to me." I liked how O'Brien described what made him make his decision on staying in the U.S. He was at the river, just barely in Canadian territory when he finally realized he couldn't go through with it; he admitted that it was because he did not want to feel shame for the rest of his life.

Since this book is primarily about stories from O'Brien's experiences from the times he had in Vietnam, I think it's appropriate to talk about how this book makes me feel about the issue of war. When you have to read the stories about the young men that die, such as Ted Lavender, Curt Lemon, and Kiowa, you feel a strong connection to them because O'Brien does such an effective job of personifying each character. It makes you want to strive for peace, but realistically you cannot have peace forever. There will always be someone who acts in unforgivable ways. Sometimes there will be people who are unwilling to cooperate or compromise. It's inevitable, and it's human nature to turn against each other sometimes. It's a tragic thing to have to go through, but it is what it is. Somebody has to go in and fight for us, and whoever it is has the nation's utmost respect and gratitude. Should they die, they will die with great honor and dignity.


  1. This was my favorite chapter from the book. All the scenes were really well written and I could imagine all of his conflicts and difficult choices he had to make. I thought he was brave for not running away but at the same time why he chose to go to war was him being a coward in some way.

    I agree with your second paragraph completely. It makes me think why should war be allowed. I do think it is needed but read all these terrible war stories and things happening after war and it makes me wonder about the reasoning for all the violence.

  2. This chapter took my mind to Haiti. In Haiti, the US is taking its supplies to Haiti. This means USA cannot help but pity on the casualties and the horrible experiences people are having.
    Why War in Iraq then? Weren't their any families living? Weren't there babies in Iraq? Was it the fault of the thousands of innocent children that became orphans in a few minutes in the War in Iraq, just like the victims of the Earthquake in Haiti?

    What is the point of helping a country when we destroy another equally? What is the sense of operating patients when we murdered wounded thousands?

    These thoughts came to my mind as I read this chapter.

  3. You are correct when you say there will always be someone who act in unforgivable ways. But I also dont believe that wars are stared just because of those people. WWII for example was started to save the jews from the nazi's.

    Yes, some wars are started from hate, but others are started from hope. A hope that maybe someday things will be better because of this war.