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Sparknotes 2 TTTC - “Spin” Summary Insisting that...

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“Spin” Summary Insisting that sometimes war is less violent and more sweet, O’Brien shares disconnected memories of the war. Azar gives a bar of chocolate to a little boy with a plastic leg. Mitchell Sanders sits under a tree, picking lice off his body and depositing them in an envelope addressed to his Ohio draft board. Every night, Henry Dobbins and Norman Bowker dig a foxhole and play checkers. The narrator stops the string of anecdotes to say that he is now forty-three years old and a writer, and that reliving the memories has caused them to recur. He insists that the bad memories live on and never stop happening. He says his guilt has not ceased and that his daughter Kathleen advises him to write about something else. Nevertheless, he says, writing about what one remembers is a means of coping with those things one can’t forget. O’Brien describes when the Alpha Company enlists an old Vietnamese man whom they call a “poppa- san” to guide the platoon through the mine fields on the Batangan Peninsula. When he is done, the troops are sad to leave their steadfast guide. Mitchell Sanders tells a story of a man who went AWOL in order to sleep with a Red Cross nurse. After several days, the man rejoined his unit and was more excited than ever about getting back into combat, saying that after so much peace, he wanted to hurt again. Norman Bowker whispers one night that if he could have one wish it would be for his father to stop bothering him about earning medals. Kiowa teaches Rat Kiley and Dave Jensen a rain dance, and when they ask him, afterward, where the rain was, he replies, “The earth is slow, but the buffalo is patient.” Ted Lavender adopts a puppy, and Azar later kills it, claiming his own immaturity as an excuse. Henry Dobbins sings to himself as he sews on his new buck-sergeant stripes. Lavender occasionally goes too heavy on the tranquilizers and calls the war “nice” and “mellow.” After Curt Lemon is killed, he hangs in pieces on a tree. Last comes the vision of a dead, young man and Kiowa’s voice ringing in O’Brien’s ear, assuring him, repeatedly, that O’Brien didn’t have a choice. Analysis “Spin,” with its unconnected anecdotes delivered in scattered phrases and half-realized memories, stylistically echoes the fragmentation of the war experience. Like the anecdotes in “The Things They Carried,” the anecdotes here are static and seemingly unrelated. They jump in time, purpose, and magnitude in the same way that a soldier’s mind might jump around his past. In this story, it becomes clear to us that all the stories O’Brien is telling originate from his memory. A shift in tone accompanies the fragmentation; O’Brien transitions from a balanced to a disillusioned evaluation of the war. He argues that the war is unlike Dobbins and Bowker’s well-ordered, rational games of checkers. The war has neither rules nor winners, and men witness horrific acts juxtaposed with random acts of kindness.
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