Social And Political Factors In Tim O Brien's The Things They Carried

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The decision to go to war is not a decision that is taken lightly. In The Things They Carried, Tim O’Brien faces cultural, social and political factors that end up leading him to forgo his plan to dodge the draft, and to report as instructed, a mere yards away from his destination of Canada (57). In Leslie Marmon Silko’s Ceremony, Rocky and Tayo, two young Native American men, experience cultural, social and political factors that draw them into the Army, fighting the Second World War for a country that considers them less than human. The stories of these characters are not unique, they are stories that are representative of the stories of young American men at the time, who faced cultural, social, and political factors during both conflicts. …show more content…

Thomas Morgan delves into the history of the relationship between Germany and Native Americans in Native Americans in World War II. In the First World War, Native American languages were used as codes for American, French and British troops to send messages, and even by the end of the war, the Germans had not broken the code (Morgan). In the 1930s, it was clear to many that another World War was on the horizon. Hitler sent Nazi agents to the US posing as scientists to try to learn native languages to prevent the same thing from happening again. Americans who supported the Third Reich tried to convince Native Americans to stay out of the war, and many tried to instigate a native revolt (Morgan). In a last-ditch effort to win over Native American support, Nazi Propaganda Minister Goebbels declared the Sioux to be Aryans (Morgan). The Sioux didn’t buy it. Being a Native American in America wasn’t easy, but things under Hitler would be unimaginably worse. The failed Nazi attempts to convert Native Americans to their cause may in part have led to the rampant turnout of Native Americans during the war (Morgan). Rocky clearly views the war as morally just in Ceremony, saying that he and Tayo could do “real good” (Silko 66). The threat that fascism and Nazism presented to Native Americans was undoubtedly part of what lead Rocky to viewing the war …show more content…

One of these cultural factors was the “American warrior culture.” The warrior culture didn’t just apply to Native Americans. In many American small towns and rural areas where, per Christian Appy in Working Class War: American Combat Soldiers and Vietnam, a disproportionate number of the men who served in Vietnam were from, men were expected to join the fight according to Fighting in Vietnam: The Experiences of the U.S. Soldier by James Westheider (43). Gonzalo Baltazar had seven brothers who all joined the military (Westheider 42). Service was the norm. Gordon Roberts was from a town that was all about “hot dogs, mom, apple pie”, it was a town where the “citizen soldier was very strong”, it was expected that when the time came to serve, he would do his duty (Westheider 43). Tim O’Brien had to deal with similar expectations as Mr. Baltazar and Mr. Roberts in The Things They Carried. He knew the expectation in his small town is that he would fight if called upon by his country, and one of the major reasons he didn’t cross the river was because of that expectation, and the fear of what would happen to him if he didn’t answer the call

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