In both works, the soldiers set aside their morals to overcome the horrors of war such as killing a man. This challenges their emotional endurance and has negative consequences on their mental disposition. Paul Bäumer, the protagonist in All Quiet on the Western Front, is put in a situation where he must suspend his ethics otherwise his supposed enemy, Gérard Duval, will murder him. This is the first time Paul has killed with his own hands, and “every gasp [of the enemy] lays [Paul’s] heart bare” (Remarque 221). He feels instant regret for his actions, and he “would give much if [Duval] would but stay alive” (Remarque 221).
O’Brien’s intended audience was young people who were not educated about the war and he discussed the themes shame/guilt and mortality/death. The chapter “The Things They Carried” gives an introduction about the men in the group, it also shows shame/guilt. The chapter talks about the equipment each soldier carried and how it affected them. During this chapter it focuses primarily on LT. Cross and his obsession with Martha. Eventually, after a death in the group, LT. Cross was distracted and he decides to burn the letters Martha sent him.
In Three Day Road, Xavier is exposed to slow violence by cultural and emotional conflict throughout the war, which resulted in post-traumatic stress. Xavier is a remorseful character because of how he was brought up. Regardless of his role in the war, he feels remorse every time he kills. His beliefs do not change. He does not compromise his beliefs over the expectation to hate the enemy or in the company of Elijah who evidently has compromised his prior beliefs.
One of the main reasons O’Brien, a Vietnam veteran, wrote this novel, was “to communicate his traumas incommunicability (Hope College/WTS Journal List)” to the outside world in a way that verbalizing never could. The war left many soldiers so damaged that they failed at communicating feelings of guilt and trauma to others. The book shows this several times and it is one of the largest ways in which the Vietnam War mentally affected those closest to it. In the section titled, “Speaking of Courage”, Norman Bowker, a Vietnam veteran who fought with O’Brien, drives around a lake thinking of the war. He is unable to explain his war experiences to people who will listen.
“‘Don’t let me find him! If only I could get rid of this dead weight, so that I could use all my strength to struggle for my own survival, and only worry about myself,’ I immediately felt ashamed of myself, ashamed forever,” (Wiesel, 111). This is just one example of the internal conflict going on endlessly within himself. In Night, the question asking whether family is a blessing or a curse is the most significant theme because it highlights good and bad times, it shows the internal conflict between whether he wants his father around or not, and it illustrates the dehumanization Elie faces throughout the Holocaust. When thinking of family,
Returning home from war is never an easy transition for a soldier, no soldier embodied that truth more than Norman Bowker. Bowker is a Vietnam War veteran from the novel The Things They Carried by Tim O’Brien who struggles with his life and mental health after the Vietnam War. Bowker is troubled by his memories- most specifically one memory- that he cannot forget or forgive himself for. Bowker was a man who had to fight for his life every day he was in Vietnam, there was always a chance the Viet Cong would attack. Bowker lost friends and lost fellow soldiers every day in Vietnam, he even lost his best friend to the war.
From the very start of the movie we are given reason to question if what Jacob is seeing is real. We are told he's a Vietnam vet who was injured in combat, his son has died tragically young, his wife has divorced him, and only ever sees the demons. So it wouldn’t be out of the question for him to have a damaged psyche that is constantly flashing back to Vietnam and seeing demons out to kill him. This causes us to constantly question Jacobs sanity, and just how much of this reality we should believe. Upon rewatching the film, we understand why his reality is so messed up, and as a result we realise that Jacob isn’t insane.
This story in particular deals with a boy who is not adept to adjusting to his father's Vietnam syndrome. Terry Erickson is bothered by the way his father’s eyes seem to have vanished and how he would pause abruptly during a meal. He inquires with his mother about this and decides to do some research on the war. His father begins to act out and Terry finally picks up the courage to ask him about Vietnam. “Stop the Sun” by Gary Paulsen heavily regards the effects of PTSD and by doing so provides a great example of point of view and theme.
Henry saw himself as a hero before he got into a battle, but when faced with the reality of war, his imaginations did not come true. For instance, during the march to battle, Henry was continuously complaining about how all the walking was tiring him out and that it was all for nothing. Henry said, “I can't stand this much longer, I don't see what good it does to wear out our legs for nothin’” (Crane 35). Henry knew what he was signing up for when he joined the army, yet in difficult conditions he lacked the motivation to keep going. Another scenario of cowardice shown through dialogue was when Henry was complaining about always losing battles and blaming it on his generals.
They see soldiers and civilians dying, and are made kill others. Prisoners of war are often mistreated, and conditions for those who aren’t captured are still not given good living conditions. Many soldiers who live are injured and have near-death experiences. Billy Pilgrim, the main character from Slaughterhouse-Five, was emotionally scarred from the war, and therefore believed he was time-travelling. Little things would upset him or bring back memories of the war because of the ordeal through which he went.
"When a man died, there had to be blame. Jimmy Cross understood this. You could blame the war… A moment of carelessness or bad judgment or plain stupidity carried consequences that lasted forever" (115). In both the novel and the video, it was shown that the soldiers would quickly take blame for the actions in battle. For example, in the Battle of Ong Thanh, a veteran shared that he had the opportunity to save someone, but didn’t take it due to fear.
The pacification missions his platoon goes on are one example of that war within his own mind. He states multiple times that he is bothered by the fact that they have to convince the villagers that the American soldiers are the good guys (112). Richie doesn’t truly know who the enemy is or if either side is “right”. He makes the comment, “The real question was what I was doing, what any of us were doing, in Nam” (69). It’s hard for Perry to fight when he doesn’t know what he’s fighting for.
All the while, he joins the army, yet it cuts a deep wound into him, and he loses his mind, and so he escapes. Thereafter, he lives true to the quote, “Your identity defines who you are but it doesn 't have to define you for life” (Whitbourne), in the way that he begins to voice his grievances. To Brinker and all of his other peers he pronounces , “ ‘I’m important. You’ve never realized it, but I’m important too’ “(Knowles 176).
No matter who you where in the war, everybody walked away with guilt. Jimmy Cross will never forgive himself over the death of Ted Lavender. “He had loved Martha more than his men, and as a consequence Lavender was now dead” (pg 7) Cross has to live with the fact that his distraction over Martha caused Lavender to die and as commanding officer he had responsibility over him. O’Brien feels the blame over the death of “a short, slender young man of about twenty” (pg 129) With the pain of killing this young man keeps O’Brien “writing war stories” (pg 129). With this remorse he feels the writing of the stories gives the man a history and a wife.