Analysis of I Am the Grass

1707 Words Aug 7th, 2011 7 Pages
Analysis of I Am The Grass
Daly Walker has written a story about a doctor who is haunted by the shame and guilt he carries with him from the atrocious acts he committed while serving in the army; acts so horrible that he cannot speak of them. The story depends on his use of three literary elements: setting, plot and symbolism.
He has never told his wife and daughter anything about the time he spent as a grunt with the 25th infantry in Vietnam even though the horrible memories are with him all the time. He loves his wife and daughter and wants them to believe he is a good man even though he doesn’t believe it. He feels that he is two people fighting within himself. On the outside, he appears to live a comfortable life as a physician and
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Then the plot takes us on his journey back to Vietnam on a trip to repair the cleft palates and lips of children on whose land “he once wreaked havoc, whose parents and grandparents he murdered”, the people he stills holds contempt for deep inside himself. At their first meeting, it is contempt that he feels toward Dr. Lieh Viet Dinh, the director of Khanh Hoa Hospital. This doctor was also in the war. He was a surgeon for the North Vietnamese. He was taken prisoner by the South Vietnamese Special Forces who starved and tortured him, eventually cutting off both of his thumbs. He can no longer perform surgery or even eat with chop sticks because he has no thumbs. The narrator becomes immersed in his work on the children and after the first week realizes he is beginning to like the nurses and doctors in the operating room. His feelings of guilt and ambivalence are replaced by a sense of good will and atonement, “as if Vietnam and I were two bad people who had unexpectedly done something nice for each other.” While he was performing surgery during this first week, Dr. Dinh, came every day to observe him. The plot takes an unexpected turn when Dinh asks him to transplant one of his toes onto his hand to make a thumb. The surgery is finally agreed upon and performed. Sadly, the surgery is not successful and the transplanted toe has to be removed. He is not able to undo or repair all the damage done by the war

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