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Tim O'brian's How To Tell A True War Story Of The Things They Carried

1165 words - 5 pages

The Tim O’Brian’s short story, “Sweetheart of the Song Tra Bong”, Mary Anne Bell is a rare illustration of the innocence that is lost. In her attractive sweater, unblemished pants and free spirited attitude, no one could seem more faultless. She was the definition of a true young American teenager or at least that’s what they all assumed at first. In the beginning of the story, she is something noticeable to both the soldiers and the reader: she was expected to be a normal American girl who wanted nothing more than a family. The story of her mutation into something different, a killer, mirrors the transformation of most of the soldiers. It is a well-known fact that war changes people; there is an innocence that is forever lost. They go to war as young men and return from war as thirsty butchers. The sweetheart of the song Tra bong is not about the war or Mary Anne but it is about how Mary Anne embraced and adopted to her surrounding while everyone else ignored every single detail. Although Mary Anne felt at peace with herself and transformation, she was also disconnected from the real world.
Mary Anne was smuggled into Vietnam by her boyfriend Mark Fossie to visit him, her arrival in Vietnam brought a touch of home to everyone. She was a beautiful, innocent 17 year-old American blonde, she had on “white culottes and a sexy pink sweater” (O’Brian 91). Her bubbly personality, joyful smile, and good looks not only pleased Mark but also a good morale of all the other soldiers. For the first two weeks, the two love birds were stuck together like as if they needed each other to breathe. “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). Fossie and Anne both had their future together planed out, at least that was what Fossie thought. Little did they know that hiding under a so called innocent girl laid an overwhelming curiosity that was not common in American girls of her era. It was unusual for women to be fighting in the Vietnam War, so the fact that Mary Anne went to Vietnam in the first place shows that she may not be as innocent as assumed. She was very naive because she had no glue what the future holds for her and how Vietnam will transform her, no one did.
The more days Mary Anne spent in Vietnam the more she became interested in the culture of war discovering her curious nature. She would listen carefully to the stories she was told and was intrigued by the land and its mystery. Vietnam gave her a new strength, the ability to choose for herself where she would go and who she would become. Anne figuratively became “a different person… there was a new confidence in her voice, a new authority in the way she carried herself”. As Vietnam empowered Mary Anne and gave her a new personality the men could not understand and they began to see an inequity in Mary Anne,...

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