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Showing Soldiers Acceptance Essay

1379 words - 6 pages

In the chapter How to Tell a True War Story, from the novel The Things They Carried by Tim O'Brien, the land itself is out to crush the soldiers " the mountains … The rock … the fog … The trees … The whole country."(O’Brien 71). The metaphor used to describe the "spookiness" of Vietnam illustrates the soldiers’ feelings toward the land they were sent to fight in. A nation where they didn’t belong that was trying to expel them like some kind of sickness. Upon return the soldiers sought respect for their service, but were instead met with opposition from the government. Not to mention, many soldiers were suffering from mental illness as a result of the war. The soldiers were destroyed even by the land they fought for. America is not alive like Vietnam is, but as Allen Ginsberg points out in his poem America, America is a machine that destroys all opposition or original thought.Ginsberg, and the “Beat necks” of the nineteen fifties were seeking out a place in their nation, their home. Equally, the soldiers were seeking out purpose in a land hostile to them. These two perspectives, although separated by many years, are parallel in their description of a hostile land. Bloodied and bruised, the weight carried by the soldiers in the war are equal to those bore by Ginsberg. Vietnam and America beat and battered a few young men that were only doing as they were told to,or as they felt they had to. Both Ginsberg and the Soldiers of Vietnam sought acceptance in a world the coincidentally wanted nothing to do with them.
The Beat Generation is called such because they were beaten, worn down, and left to cope with a world that did not understand them. Ginsberg’s poem America focuses mainly on the ‘Beating’ that America dished out to him. Ginsberg states how America has stripped away all that he had, or that he was. In the end, he is left with with only “two dollars and twentyseven cents”(Ginsberg 39).The “Mainstream America” forced him to turn his back on his beliefs, and what he learned from his mother. As he say in the poem he “used to be a communist” and that he is “not sorry”(Ginsberg 40). Society often has a tendency to crush outward thinking. A tendency to force people to follow a “Cookie Cutter” format of how you are supposed to go about life. A tendency that beat and battered Ginsberg, and Kerouac, and all members of their generation. America is not a "Brave New World" it is a conformist machine in the eyes of Ginsberg where you are either destined to “join the Army,” or “ turn lathes in … factories.” The “Beat necks” fought personal battles against their own land to gain acceptance into it. Much like how so many young men were set down in Vietnam given a gun and left to figure it all out. Ginsberg did not know why he was being prosecuted so. In the same way, the soldiers did not know what they were fighting for.
In the conclusion of his poem “America” Ginsberg resolves to put his “queer shoulder to the wheel.”(Ginsberg,43) and work for the ‘American...

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