Another True War Story Essay

848 words - 4 pages

In “The Sweetheart of Song Tra Bong,” Rat Kiley recounts the time when Mark Fossie brought in his girlfriend, Mary Anne Bell, from Ohio to Nam. Mary Anne is a curious and very friendly seventeen-year- old girl who just graduated from high school. She constantly asks questions about the war. Tension grows between Mary Anne and Mark when Mary Anne starts to become more involved in the war. She helps with taking care of the injured soldiers and learns how to operate an M-16. Mark suggests that the two of them go back home, but Mary Anne refuses. She begins to return to the camp late at night, or not at all. One day in the early morning, Mark cannot find Mary Anne and panics, only to ...view middle of the document...

She changes from being innocent to experienced and deadly. Another side of her is brought out after she experiences the war for a few weeks. She understands what the war is truly about and relishes being in it. The smell of rotting flesh indicates the death of Mary Anne’s sweet innocence. Mary Anne tells Mark that she feels like “[she is] full of electricity and [she is] glowing in the dark—[she is] on fire almost—[she is] burning away into nothing” (106). She does not shrink away from the war—she embraces it. She finds that she has found her place in Vietnam.
Mary Anne’s change is also reflected in the way that she dresses. When she first arrives at the camp, she is wearing “white culottes and this sexy pink sweater” (86). After returning from the ambush with the Green Berets, she goes to the Special Army hootch. When Mark enters the hootch, she is once again wearing “her pink sweater and a white blouse and a simple cotton skirt” (105) and a necklace of human tongues. Although Mary Anne wears the same clothes as before she comes to the war, the necklace of human tongues stands out to show how the war changes her—it showed her the real world and took away her innocence. The human tongues on her necklace are “elongated and narrow, like pieces of blackened...

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