All through school students were only taught the very top layer about the Vietnam War, such as dates, places that the war took place, and straight statistics of the war. The parts that were left out are the tragedies, and the permanent scars this war left. Students are told about the number of deaths that occurred, but they are not told about the lives that were affected, or how disturbing the war really was to the soldiers that fought in it. Much can be interpreted by what people write. The great thing about interpretations is that each writing can be interpreted differently. Just like Tim O’Brien’s book titled “The Things They Carried.
” It is a very deep and touching collection of stories about the Vietnam War and many peoples experiences in this destructive war. One story that is a touching and very intriguing is titled, “The Man I Killed. ” A reader can look at this story and relate it back to things they learned in school, but the point of the story is not this but rather things that can not be taught in public schools. This specific story goes inside a soldier’s mind and shows the reader what they are thinking when they kill someone.
The way that O’Brien starts this story is with great description that helps the reader visualize what is going on. He describes a mangled body that someone had recently killed; again not part of teachings in public schools. The story goes on to tell what the victims background may have been in the eyes of the soldier. How maybe he was a scholar and his parents farmers, or maybe why this young man was in the army, and why he was fighting. O’Brien states that the man may have joined because he was struggling for independence, just like all the people that were fighting with him, maybe this man had been taught from the beginning; that to defend the land was a mans highest duty and privilege.
On the other hand maybe he was not a good fighter, maybe he was in poor health but had been told to fight and could not ask any questions. These are all reasons that are taught in textbooks; they go along with the idea of the draft. Some people go fight because they want to and others go because they are told they have to. How do you tell these people apart in the heat of battle or when they are dead? O’Brien next describes the young man as someone who was small, frail, and maybe had plans for a bright future.
The death of this soldier is most likely going to bring sorrow to the heart of the reader. O’Brien states that all the plans that he had made, now will never happen; for him or the family that is longing for his return. He also writes how there is much regret and a little sorrow in the killers’ mind. It intrigues me how O’Brien writes on this young mans life and how it came to a sudden end and his plans for the future are over. In addition to that he had the story written through the eyes of the soldier that ended this young mans life.
Again, I must say students are not taught about the war through the eyes of people that experienced the pain and tragedy. This story shows how much could not be taught in schools. It makes one wonder, why? People look at war now as something they want stopped and never let it happen again. With stories like “The Sorrows of War,” it puts more bad images of war in peoples minds. It shows that it not only affected the soldier that got killed and his family, but also the soldier that pulled the trigger.
I chose this story to write about because before I read it I had never really been taught more than just the basics about Vietnam. After reading it and seeing the death of a soldier through someone’s eyes and the deep affects it had on his life makes my perspective of war worse then it already is.