Mary Anne Bell Character Analysis

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The Lasting Effect of War

It is impossible to undo the changes caused by war. People often go into war as one person and return a completely new one. Not only does war have extreme physical effects on a person, but greater effects on the mind and mental state of the people involved. The traumatic and life changing effects of war are evident in The Things They Carried and are especially noticeable in the characters of Mary Anne Bell, Tim O’Brien, and Rat Kiley and the lives they live.

Mary Anne Bell’s character shows how much war really changes someone. She was shipped over to Vietnam by her boyfriend, Mark Fossie, at just seventeen years of age. She was an innocent, young and pretty girl from Cleveland Heights. When she first arrived, …show more content…

However, war started to change her emotions, appearance and the way she thought and is exemplified when O’Brien describes: “‘It took a few seconds,’ Rat said, ‘to appreciate the full change. In part it was her eyes: utterly flat and indifferent. There was no emotion in her stare, no sense of the person behind it. But the grotesque part, he said, was her jewelry. At the girl’s throat was a necklace of human tongues,’” (O’Brien 109). Consequently, her appearance had altered dramatically since she arrived there. She would never have worn a necklace like that before she went to war. The war changed the way she thought. Mentally, war desensitized her. Similarly, O'Brien continues to describe the diminished character in the story by adding: “Near the end of the third week Fossie began making arrangements to send her home. At first, Rat said, Mary Anne seemed to accept it, but then after a day or two she fell into a restless gloom, sitting off by herself at the compound’s perimeter. Shoulders hunched, her blue eyes opaque, she seemed to disappear inside herself. A couple of times Fossie

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