Going After Cacciato Analysis

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American Novelist, Tim O’brien, in his book, Going After Cacciato, illuminates the daunting effects of the Vietnam War by delving into the mind of a young soldier, Paul Berlin. The theme of discontinuity and trauma is revealed as the novel jumps back and forth from reality and fantasy. The book focuses on Berlin, on guard at the observational post as he recounts the tragic deaths of members in his squad and imagines a story of him and his squad chasing after Cacciato. The sudden change of scenes in each chapter creates discontinuities, contributing to a feeling of confusion. This is the author’s attempt to emulate the influence of war onto a soldier — disorientation. The Vietnam War was the first war in American history during which medical researchers detected traces of post-traumatic stress disorder in veterans. Today, there are countless American soldiers who suffer from trauma associated with their experiences in war. One approach that the human mind takes to counter painful memories is to repress their experiences. Soldiers will subdue real life occurrences that trigger these memories, which is the purpose for all the shifts and gaps in Going After Cacciato. They choose to completely forget events of their war and substitute them with ones they wish had occurred instead. One suggestion of trauma is evident in Chapter One when the…show more content…
“Even now, figuring how things might have happened on the road to Paris, it was a way of looking for the very best of all possible outcomes. How, with luck and courage and endurance, they might have found a way.” This reveals that Berlin is only fantasizing about making it to Paris. The soldiers’ journey to Paris, chasing after Cacciato is merely a product of Berlin’s imagination. The real events of the novel are Berlin’s flashbacks of the war before Cacciatos’ desertion and Berlin at the observation
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