The Battle Within

The Battle Within - The Battle Within The Vietnam War left...

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The Battle Within The Vietnam War left a mark on our country in many ways. Those of us who were in grade school after the war was over learned it in history class and about the controversy it had created. The protestors of the war felt that America had no legitimate reason to be over there, and perhaps they were right, but it is widely known where these protestors were horribly wrong, the way in which they disrespected the soldiers who returned. We all know how badly war reeked havoc on the lives of veterans and their families. Many were sick from the poison agent orange, and many would never truly leave the war, reliving it in their mind every day for the rest of their lives. This is what I was taught in school; this is what we read about in history, historical fiction, and true stories written by veterans and their families. This is why the story, “The Red Convertible,” by Louise Erdrich, really touched something in me. In this emotion evoking short story, Erdrich really captures the post-war experience of a particular ethnic group, the Native American veteran. The story, told from the veteran’s brother’s point of view, gives an adequate portrayal of a Native American vet with PTSD, Posttraumatic Stress Disorder, and the effects of the war on him and his family life. First of all, Erdrich paints quite an accurate picture of the typical pre-war experience of the American Indian. The way Erdrich shows Henry, the future veteran at this point, and Lyman, his brother and the narrator of the story, when they bought the convertible, gives you the sense that they were care-free and close on their road trip together. It was obvious that Henry was happy because he even joked about, “’always [wondering] what it was like to have long pretty hair’” (Erdrich 357), when he asked that girl Susy to climb on his shoulders and danced around. From this it is obvious that, like one Native veteran said in the fact sheet “The Legacy of Psychological Trauma From the Vietnam War for American Indian Personnel,” on the National Center for PTSD
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This note was uploaded on 04/07/2008 for the course WRT 102 taught by Professor Lenihan during the Fall '08 term at Pima CC.

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