Understanding Irony Through Vietnam Essay

1462 words - 6 pages

Understanding Irony through the history of Vietnam

  How do u tell a true war story? The answer can be found in Tim Obrien's excerpt entitled How to Tell a True War Story. Tim is a credible source to this topic being that he is a war veteran who served in Vietnam from 1968 to 1970. Within his story shocking truths about war are revealed. Explanations about the nature of war and the overall meanings associated with war are expressed throughout by a series of short stories. According to Tim O’Brien, a true war story is never moral, is unbelievable, and is often times pointless. Without historical knowledge of knowing how demoralizing and frustrating the Vietnam War was for U.S troops, ...view middle of the document...

" Unfortunately, all that is left are the memories of Curt. The loss is hard to swallow for all soldiers of the battalion but especially for his best friend Rat Kiley. In efforts to deal with the grieving of Curt’s death, Rat decides to write a very personal letter to his sister. The letter is very heartfelt and expresses sad emotions, but the fact that she never writes back is even sadder. No reply for Rats letter adds to the whole story by creating awareness. The initial appearance that Curt’s sister would write back makes the situational irony stronger. Before realizing that this actually happens, Tim implies that the soldier would receive a reply by elaborating on how amazing the letter was. “Anyway, it's a terrific letter, very personal and touching. Rat almost balls writing it". Later on, the outcome is revealed in a very direct and straightforward manner. “Rat mails the letter. He waits two months. The dumb cooze never writes back”. By setting the reader up this way, Tim creates a very powerful technique for presenting the Irony.
                Another story presented that reveals the same kind of irony is told by Tim’s comrade, Mitchell Sanders. The story begins with a group of soldiers sent out on LP (listening post). Their primary objective is to listen for enemy movements or sounds that may pose a threat. When and if these sounds occur, they are to radio into headquarters and report the activity. The irony in this story presents itself early on. Instead of hearing normal sounds of enemy movement such as footsteps and gun fire, the team starts to hear music. This creates a very bizarre and confusing situation for the soldiers. With time, they begin to hear singing and opera’s in of all places; the jungles of Vietnam. Here, situational irony is presented in a very well thought out form. Because the setting of the story takes place in Vietnam, when the soldiers hear chamber music, it is instantly questioned and obviously out of place. The classical music represents everything that Vietnam is not. The sounds of its delicacy and eloquence contrasts with Vietnam’s brutality and savagery. The irony is used as a connection to show how war can unexpectedly be beautiful and eloquent at times. This sort of comparison with war is expressed all throughout the piece. For example, “The truths are contradictory. It can be argued, for instance that war is grotesque. But in truth war is also beauty. For all its horror, you can’t help but gape at the awful majesty of combat”. (353.
         The third story within the piece gives the impression of being very gruesome and evil. The focus is directed towards a baby water buffalo. Tim explains the situation when his platoon finds a lone baby Vietcong water buffalo in the mountains. The buffalo is later caught and roped up by the platoon, who then takes it to an isolated village. After supper Rat Kiley takes aim and begins to shoot the animal. He starts with a shot through the right knee, then shoots it...

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