Apocalypse Now Character Analysis

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Moreover, both O’Brien and Coppola use the annihilation of animals and humans as a symbolic representation of characters’ loss of morality. In The Things They Carried, Rat Kiley mourns the death of his friend, and fellow soldier, Curt Lemon by torturing a baby water buffalo: “He stepped back and shot it through the right front knee. […] It went down hard, then got up again, and Rat took careful aim and shot off an ear. […] It wasn’t to kill; it was to hurt” (O’Brien 75). Rat Kiley’s grief for Curt Lemon drives him to direct his emotions onto the water buffalo. He wishes for it to suffer in the same way that he is suffering and, because of this, he loses his moral sense of caring. Rat Kiley transfers his emotional pain into physical pain, and…show more content…
While traveling up the Nung’ River on a search for rogue officer, Colonel Kurtz, protagonist, Captain Willard and his troop come across a fishing boat occupied by Vietnamese passengers. Chief Philips demands that his troop search the boat for dangerous items and when one of the women on the boat appears to be acting suspiciously towards the protection of a wicker basket, the scene turns bloody. Young soldier, Tyrone Miller, kills the members of the boat - like Rat Riley tortures the buffalo - in a sudden moment of violence. When the soldiers search the boat further, after the killings, they realize that what the woman was trying to hide was not a weapon, but a golden retriever puppy. Just as the baby water buffalo is a symbol of Rat Kiley’s decent into sorrow and his loss of morality, the puppy represents an equal kind of loss. The soldiers, especially Tyrone Miller, are so fixated on their paranoia over Vietnam and everything associated to it, that they cannot see the Vietnamese people on the boat as anything other than a threat. It is only after the event through seeing the puppy, an innocent figure in a corrupted world just as the people on the boat were innocent, that they come to realize just how dramatically they have lost their humanity and how their own sense of innocence, values and sanctity has been corrupted. In this way, both The Things They Carried and Apocalypse Now use
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