Symbolism In Speaking Of Courage And Soldier's Home

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Within “Speaking of Courage” by Tim O’Brien and “Soldier’s Home” by Ernest Hemmingway there is one underlying theme, it is hard for soldiers to readjust after coming home from war. Both authors use multiple devices to illustrate this theme, the symbolism of women in the protagonist 's’ life, the conflict between the protagonists and their parents, and the juxtaposition of the protagonists against other people their age. The symbolism of women in both stories plays a role in representing the theme. In “Speaking of Courage,” Bowker, the protagonist, imagines himself telling his story to Sally Kramer. He uses the word “shitfield”(78) to describe the setting in his story, and she replies that she doesn’t “like that word.”(78) Sally is symbolic of the innocence of non soldiers. The slight dispute between her and Bowker over the word choice represents how soldiers change…show more content…
Soldiers don’t necessarily have anything wrong with their behavior, however it causes them to be outcast as rude or impolite. They don’t feel as though there is anything wrong with their behavior and struggle to adjust to what is expected of them. In “Soldier’s Home,” Krebs, the protagonist, talks about how he wants a girl but he doesn’t “want to work for her.”(85) He feels that courting a girl would include having to lie to her about his interests and experiences in order to impress her. This mirrors the way soldiers feel like they have to lie to people in order to gain their interest. Which makes them feel secluded from the rest of the world because they don’t want to lie, and because of this, they have trouble adjusting after coming home. In both stories, the protagonists have conflict with their parents, which contributes to the theme. Bowker in “Speaking of Courage” imagines telling his story to his father and after stating that he wasn’t very brave his father talks about how he has “won seven medals.” He wants to focus on
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