Literary Analysis Essay on Sweetheart of the Song Tra Bong by Tim O'Brien

Published: 2021-07-12
825 words
3 pages
7 min to read
George Washington University
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The statement, Speaking of courage, Norman remembers the lake of the shit field. The lake is seen as a metaphoric having the power to kill. As Norman moves around the lake at his motherland which at this moment is also his hometown, he remembers about all the property he owned that had been taken from him. The property included the ability he had of communicating with his parents and friends together with the relationship he had created with his hometown. His motivation to succeed and his ambition had been tampered with. He had lost his friend mark during the tragedy, and now he sees himself as a satellite rather than a human being.

Being unable to free himself from the lakes magnetic pull, his destiny is circled continuously around the lake. At the end of the long chapter when Norman enters the waters, he feels the desire to be taken as well by the ocean which in turn gives a mirror of the suicide he commits later on. In the field trip story, OBrien approaches and views the area in a similar way as Norman did, but the resultant effect becomes very different.

OBrien becomes very surprised when he peacefully returns to the site where Kiowa met his death after a duration of about twenty years. Surprisingly his emotions are a bit different as he was during that period of war in the place which symbolized everything violent and vulgar from his past. The same field had taken away the friends he treasured, self-worth, hope and his innocence. Symbolically his entrance into the field is a baptism which was designated to make him clean from the ugliness the war had created. OBrien re-emerges with a high and new outlook since he had made himself free from the shackles of bitterness.

Mary Anne Bell

The girlfriend to Mark Fossie is a symbol of everything good and admirable about the United States of America. With her culottes and pink sweater, she is interpreted as the All-American girl. The Sweetheart of Song Tra Bong gives an examination about the transformation that takes place when the innocent girl is removed from the Cleveland suburbs and put down at the Vietnam Mountains. The events which happen during the eerie silence and the war of the mountain jungles hypnotically affect the young and innocent teenager.

As she continues to learn on how to assemble an automatic rifle by clamping off her eateries, she gradually begins to lose the innocence which Mark had admired. The love Mark had for her deteriorates. She starts to wear fewer makeups, and her dressing code becomes very different. Immediately after Mark returns, she sheds the youthful dreams that she had of being married to him. Finally, she completely separates from him. The jungle has more to do with her character in term of her holistic formation.

Mary Anne develops a more violent and deadly disposition the moment she was out on ambush with the Berets of Greek. She is described to have worn a necklace of human tongues and hangs herself out in the real and surreal world of the greenie hootch. She develops the appetite of staying in the country of Vietnam. She told Mark that she wanted to eat more of the countryside and to have whatever it has all inside her. In the end, she varnishes to the jungle and deals with her ambush every night. The entire anecdote or story is simply a metaphor about how the war took the American youth and their purity and corrupted it. All that is left for the country is a series of teenagers who dont fear death.


Linda was OBriens girlfriend when they were young who died as a result of a tumor in the brain. Just as Mary Anne, Linda also is a symbol of youthful innocence. More specifically she is a representation of a desire of remembering the original existence of things before catastrophe scarred them. When he dreams of her, the scars, the white scalp and bandages are gone. Writing can be described as the power to dream and collect the world dream along with you.

The man I killed

The instance where OBrien stands looking at a dead soldier of Viet Cong on the trail gives an expression the bitterness he had of being put in a situation where he either kills people or he is killed. He fears to destroy the life of the soldier, but he has to kill him. He considers himself of being a scholar that he would study than fight. He was afraid of fighting but more scared of seen as being weak by his relatives and friends. A boy who remembers listening to tales of war of the previous situation since that day he was born. He fears to kill, and this is the reason he was substantially paralyzed by the incident.

Work cited

OBrien, Tim. "Sweetheart of the Song Tra Bong." The things they carried (1990): 89-116.


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