Sparknotes 3 TTTC

Sparknotes 3 TTTC - "Speaking of Courage" Summary After the...

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“Speaking of Courage” Summary After the war, Norman Bowker returns to Iowa. On the Fourth of July, as he drives his father’s big Chevrolet around the lake, he realizes that he has nowhere to go. He reminisces about his high school girlfiend, Sally Kramer, who is now married. He thinks about his friend Max Arnold, who drowned in the lake. He thinks also of his father, whose greatest hope, that Norman would bring home medals from Vietnam, was satisfied. Norman won seven medals in Vietnam, including the Combat Infantryman’s Badge, the Air Medal, the Army Commendation Medal, the Bronze Star, and the Purple Heart. He thinks about his father’s pride in those badges and then recalls how he almost won the Silver Star but blew his chance. He drives around the town again and again, flicks on the radio, orders a hamburger at the A&W, and imagines telling his father the story of the way he almost won the Silver Star, when the banks of the Song Tra Bong overflowed. The night the platoon settled in a field along the river, a group of Vietnamese women ran out to discourage them, but Lieutenant Jimmy Cross shooed them away. When they set up camp, they noticed a sour, fishlike smell. Finally, someone concluded that they had set up camp in a sewage field. Meanwhile, the rain poured down, and the earth bubbled with the heat and the excess moisture. Suddenly, rounds of mortar fell on the camp, and the field seemed to boil and explode. When the third round hit, Kiowa began screaming. Bowker saw Kiowa sink into the muck and grabbed him by the boot to pull him out. Yet Kiowa was lost, so Bowker let him go in order to save himself from sinking deeper into the muck. Bowker wants to relate this memory to someone, but he doesn’t have anyone to talk to. On his eleventh trip around the lake, he imagines telling his father the story and admitting that he did not act with the courage he hoped he might have. He imagines that his father might console him with the idea of the seven medals he did win. He parks his car and wades into the lake with his clothes on, submerging himself. He then stands up, folds his arms, and watches the holiday fireworks, remarking that they are pretty good, for a small town. Analysis Kiowa’s death constitutes a climax in the series of stories. Because he is such a prominent character in the company’s narrative, his death fundamentally changes the relationships among the company’s individual members. Kiowa, a soft-spoken, peaceful Native American, serves as a foil for several of O’Brien’s characters, including Henry Dobbins and Norman Bowker. His presence is strong but understated, and, by nature, he is a gentle and peaceful man. He discourages soldiers from excessive violence but also supports them through the difficult and inevitable decisions war forces them to make, especially, but not exclusively, when O’Brien kills a man outside My Khe. When Kiowa is killed suddenly and senselessly, all of the men are effected, specifically Norman Bowker, who worries
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This note was uploaded on 04/07/2008 for the course EN 100 taught by Professor Rhoads during the Spring '08 term at Elizabethtown.

  • Spring '08
  • Rhoads
  • The Things They Carried, Love, Storytelling, The Land, Tim O'Brien, Norman Bowker, Jimmy Cross, Henry Dobbins, Kiowa, Azar, Kathleen, The Things They Carried, Love, Speaking of Courage, Notes, In the Field, Good Form, Field Trip, Tim O'Brien

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Sparknotes 3 TTTC - "Speaking of Courage" Summary After the...

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