Tim O Brien On The Rainy River Summary

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On the Rainy River is a story about a man, Tim O’Brien, who struggles with a life altering decision. He evaluated his own personal convictions regarding the Vietnam War at an isolated fishing lodge by the Canadian border. Three different forms of isolation are present in this story. These include physical, emotional, and societal isolation – all of which had an effect on how Tim dealt his conflicting emotions. Physical isolation played a prominent role in Tim O’Brien’s final decision to go to war. The setting for most of the story is a small fishing lodge in the woods of Minnesota. The author describes this location as having “… great sweeps of pine and birch and sumac” between a few secluded buildings. Not only is the lodge isolated by…show more content…
The societal and social pressures weighing on Tim’s mind were explained well in paragraph 28, “My conscience told me to run, but some irrational and powerful force was resisting, like a weight pushing me toward the war.” With Tim’s extreme isolation, it was no surprise that these pressures could manifest in unusual ways. Towards the end of the short, Tim imagines a situation in which his family, friends, strangers, and prominent social figures were yelling at him from the Canadian shore. The societal isolation influenced who was there and what they were yelling. No card burning protesters were there to cheer him on, possibly because a week without the media pushed those memories aside. The final tipping point is expressed in paragraph 70, “I couldn’t endure the mockery, or the disgrace, or the patriotic ridicule.” This shows the social pressure was too much for Tim to take. He wanted to escape the war but he couldn’t deal with what others would have thought of him. The societal isolation created the tipping point where Tim learned his issues with fighting in the war were not enough to overcome the embarrassment from running
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