Symbolism In Full Metal Jacket

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Full Metal Jacket portrays the journey of a group of marines during the Vietnam War as they endure boot camp before joining the warfront. Their intensely demoralizing drill Sergeant constantly insults and abuses them, leading one soldier, Private Pyle, to go into the bathroom one night, loads a gun, and kills both the Sergeant and himself. Soon after this, they are all shipped off to Vietnam.
The focus then shifts towards on one marine in particular, a journalist, named P.T. Davis, who others refer to as "Joker." While most of the new soldiers are sent to the infantry, Davis is assigned to basic military journalism. He endures the Tet Offensive in Saigon until he angers his boss and gets shipped off to the heat of the battle to report on the front lines. He then joins a platoon of blood-thirsty marines and sees what the war is truly like on the front lines. The platoon does no take kindly to Joker because he wears a peace symbol on his uniform in an attempt to portray the "duality of man.”
Although he is at first opposed to violence, he comes to grips with it when his troop begins taking sniper fire and many are killed. Later he ends up shooting an injured Viet Cong sniper (a girl of about 14) in the heat of a moral dilemma that there is really no correct answer to. This is a very hard thing for an American raised on the values of childhood and family to deal with as the girl was so young.
Full Metal Jacket is a pretty historically accurate film. It makes references to
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