Summary Of On The Rainy River By Tim O Brien

443 Words2 Pages

In addition, Tim O’Brien conveys how society’s view on cowardice leads to the feeling of guilt in soldiers in the Vietnam War. In “On The Rainy River”, O’Brien claims that he opposes the Vietnam War, and he sees no reason for the war. However, against his own will, he is drafted and is required to go to war. O’Brien reacts negatively to this saying, “All I wanted was to live the life I was born I was off on the margins of exile, leaving my country forever, and it seemed so impossible and terrible and sad,” (50 and 51). As a result, to avoid to war, he considers going to Canada to follow his moral beliefs. It is here that O’Brien brings about a different perspective of cowardice. He states that refusing to follow one’s own beliefs exemplifies cowardice, as by refusing one’s beliefs, he shows cowardice to himself. …show more content…

As a result, O’Brien struggles with his decision to do what he believes is right, as he wants to do what he thinks it right, but he cannot deal with the criticism of others. He says, “My conscience told me to run, but some irrational and powerful force was resisting, like a weight pushing me toward the war. What it came down to, stupidly was a sense of shame. I did not want people to think badly of me,” (51 and 52). Due to the societal standpoint at the time, he simply could not resist embarrassment others would bestow upon him. Most soldiers in the Vietnam War felt the shame of resisting war as, “Men Killed and died because they were embarrassed not to,” (21). For this reason, soldiers adopted cowardice towards themselves if their morals were not towards the Vietnam War. Society creates a margin where there is cowardice with choosing and not choosing to go to war. O’Brien reflects on this by saying, “I understood that I would not do what I should do,” (57), “I was a coward. I went to war,”

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