essay 4 - Comparing Similarities Between The Allegory of...

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Comparing Similarities Between The Allegory of The Cave And How to Tell a True War Story By using Plato’s “The Allegory of The Cave” as a way of explaining the stories in Tim O’ Brien’s “How to Tell a True War Story,” it becomes easier to understand how the soldiers’ reality is similar to the reality of the people in the cave. The soldiers returning from the war are like the prisoners in the cave, and the war itself is like the cave that is holding everyone in prison. Inside the cave, there is no way of telling the difference between reality and illusions. The prisoners are lead to believe that the shadows that they see are actual people and objects. Similarly, the soldiers’ minds are still trapped because of the war which causes the men to create illusions. The war is the same idea as the cave, war is a dark and deep trap that separates one’s sense of reality and distorts the truth. The prisoners in “The Allegory of The Cave” are forcefully being misled from reality outside the cave. In the cave they “…have their legs and necks chained so that they cannot move, and can only see before them, being prevented by the chains from turning round their heads” (1294). The reality for the prisoners is the shadows that are being created in front of them. The prisoners see different shadows of objects that are put in front of them and base their world and lives around the shadows. Their minds can only function with a one dimensional view point, thus their imaginations are molded the same way. Often when someone is being exposed to the same scenario for a long period of time, they begin to believe it to be reality.
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The soldiers in “How to Tell A True War Story” are placed in a similar situation as the prisoners in the cave. For example, when Mitchell Sanders is telling his story about the Vietnamese music “…every night they keep hearing that crazyass gook concert” (73). They cannot change the music they listen to or move to another spot where they cannot hear the music. The soldiers are forced to stay and do as they are told. They “Can’t even talk to each other except maybe in whispers, all hush-hush, and that just revs up the willies. All they do is listen” (73). Sanders talks about how all they ever did was listen to that same music every day. Just like the prisoners in the cave, the soldiers did not have a choice to what they saw or heard. Plato says that “They had been severed from those sensual pleasures, such as eating and drinking, which, like leaden weights were attached to them at their birth” (1298). Sanders keeps on telling the story of the six soldiers and how “…they [were] pretty fried out by now” (74). Their minds were still not use to the changes around them. They were being pounded by images and sounds of war that they do not hear everyday. The soldiers’ minds were being pulled in two many directions and ended making up illusions to satisfy the way the soldiers saw things originally and the new changes they are seeing now. The illusion was a mix of
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This note was uploaded on 04/16/2008 for the course ENGL 1033 taught by Professor Napodano during the Spring '08 term at Tulsa.

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essay 4 - Comparing Similarities Between The Allegory of...

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