Speaking Of Courage Symbolism

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In the short story “Speaking of Courage”, from Tim O’Brien’s collection The Things They Carried, many foggy images that the reader may have about war are sure to be made clear. It turns out that some veterans struggle just as much back home as they did in the war, and O’Brien paints a clear picture of the struggles these veterans face. Readers of “Speaking of Courage” get to see America through a veteran's eyes, and attempt to discern the peculiar struggle of being back home from war. In “Speaking of Courage”, O’Brien’s fictional twist on a true story, Norman Bowker reflects on a disturbing experience that happened to him back in the Vietnam War as he drives around his hometown. He has a very hard time moving on from a traumatic moment he faced …show more content…

As he drove around his hometown, he thought about life during the war and his present relations with his father and an old girlfriend. Norman pictured a conversation he might have with his old (now married) girlfriend Sally. ‘“He'd keep it light. He wouldn't say anything about anything. "How's it being married?" he might ask, and he'd nod at whatever she answered with, and he would not say a word about how he'd almost won the Silver Star for valor.”’(O’Brien,1990, pg. 134)
Sally and Norman used to be very close, and now, in conversation, he is vague and unfocused. He didn't tell her anything about where he had been and what he’d been doing for the past couple of years. Very uncommon for any normal conversation with an old friend. He wasn't honest and open to Sally about a huge moment in his time in Vietnam when he almost won a Silver Star for valor. His thoughts about the Silver Star moment were limiting him from deep conversation and being honest and genuine with a close old girlfriend. A prime example of past experiences affecting a character in the form of his …show more content…

This text comes from the explanation chapter “Notes” at the end of the actual story. ‘"Speaking of Courage" was written in 1975 at the suggestion of Norman Bowker, who three years later hanged himself in the locker room of a YMCA in his hometown in central Iowa.’ (O’Brien, pg. 149). This fact puts into perspective the reality of the problems which Bowker’s past was bringing upon him. It also will better help the reader truly grasp the meaning of this work, which is when returning home from a traumatic experience such as war, many people have a mental struggle, a search for normality, and they do need

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