Blending Reality and Fantasy in Going After Cacciato by O'Brien
As O'Brien's third novel, Going After Cacciato is one of his most acclaimed works. The book brings to the reader many chilling aspects of war while developing a connection between the reader and the narrator. After many years, Going After Cacciato still dominates over more recent war novels by providing a unique glimpse into the soldiers mind. O'Brien reflects upon his wartime experiences in Vietnam while successfully blending reality and fantasy in an original war story.
In the first chapter of the book, the relationship between the story and its title is quickly made. As the character who encites the chase, Cacciato embarks on the seemingly ludicrous journey to …show more content…
The dreamlike quality of the events that Berlin undergoes also pushes this book into the realm of fantasy and science fiction. There are stories within stories in this book, adding to the loose definition of this book as a war story. The secondary plots often demonstrate the mind of a soldier at war. Cacciato's desertion or "Humping to Paris," (5:7) as Berlin calls it, was a thought in many soldier's minds, dreaming of a place where they would rather be. Another group of people in the book are the villagers who at times fall victim to the soldier's orders. In the systematic raiding of villages, Berlin begins to develop a sense of understanding; he realizes the villagers accept that he does not want to destroy their hamlet but it must be done, as it is his duty. Parts of the book are about self-discovery as Berlin finds his place in the war. During one of the flashbacks, the men decide to "touch the grenade," (5:209) in agreement to kill their lieutenant. By returning to the war setting, O'Brien is able to return the novel to its primary motif, war.
Repeated throughout the novel is Berlin's solitude during the war as he is at the observation post considering "the issue...of courage." (5:73) Alone during the early hours of the day Berlin makes decisions of how he will act, about exactly what is going on in Vietnam. Decisions of that type influenced how he filled his role in Vietnam, as an
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Generals Die in Bed is a narrative which never spares the readers from the truth of the horrors and futility of war. The reality of the shocking and inhumane trenches hits both the readers and the soldiers with apprehension of the front line. The actions of the soldiers are under constant tension of the war, and the conditions imposed upon them clearly become the catalyst for many of their actions. The narrator has indubitably portrayed war as nothing glorious or heroic, but giving the soldiers a sense of dread and demonstrating a
During this time he secured an internship at the Washington Post, which resulted in a full time position as a journalist. He is a passionate writer, a novelist; he published Northern Lights (1975). Northern Lights is a book telling about two sibling soldiers struggling with readjustment to civilian life in rural Minnesota. Where have you gone, charming Billy? (1975). The following book was also dominated by O’Brien’s experiences in Vietnam. Going after Cacciato (1978), a story based on a mixture of reality and fantasy. In this fictitious book, O’Brien writes about a soldier who fled the war theater to go to Paris hoping to escape the Vietnam War. Going after Cacciato won the National Book Award in fiction 1978. O’Brien also wrote The Nuclear Age (1985) this book is about a man facing his fears about the thread of a nuclear war. 1994 the New York Times magazine published O’Brien’s essay about him revisiting My Lai in the early 1990’s. In 1994 O’Brien recalled his memories about Vietnam in his book In the Lake of the Woods (1994). This novel is based on the My Lai massacre. Although this incident happened a year before O’Brien fought in Vietnam, the aftermath of “My Lai” affected O’Brien and his fellow soldiers so intensely, that he incorporated some of these memories in the character John Wade. Tomcat in Love (1998) is not your typical Tim O’Brien book! It is a funny novel about the misadventures of a linguistic professor who is obsessed with the proper use of the English
Chapter 2 sums up the war in a different fashion, showing the contrast between the uselessness of past knowledge and the “raw and emotional skills necessary” in the trenches (20). The duties imposed on the camp by Corporal Himmelstoss symbolize the hours of work and duties done before enlistment that mean nothing during the war. Being “put through every conceivable refinement of parade ground soldiering” shows how schoolbook tasks were diligently performed only for fear of how society would perceive the boys if they were to do otherwise (26). Himmelstoss himself is the embodiment of previous responsibilities that only make the men “howl with rage” at present (26). The death of Kemmerich goes hand in hand with the death of innocence, Kemmerich’s shiny boots being the small glimpse of hope that keeps the men going. Baumer receives saveloy, hot tea, and rum from Muller for salvaging the boots. In return for giving Muller a sense of hope, Baumer receives a more needed sense of comfort and satisfaction. His hunger, one “greater than comes from the belly alone” (33), is thus satisfied. Chapter 7 directly reinforces this transition from an old life into a new one. Baumer “feels an attraction” to the
In relation to the rest of the novel, this passage is the “happy” beginning that hooks the reader, who only later realizes that this is a facade covering the horrors of the war. It creates a sense of hope in the reader
The new soldiers’ resistance was usually followed by an attempt to flee which brought shame and embarrassment to both the new soldiers and their families. Subsequent to the attempt to flee came a final adoption to the war in which O’Brien and many others tried so hard to get out of. O’Brien uses elements such as conflict, imagery, and tone to help convey his
A moment from this novel that lingered in my mind is when Kropp said this, '"I've made up my mind," he says after a while, "if they take off my leg, I'll put an end to it. I won't go through life as a cripple."' This lingered in my mind a lot. Kropp was no older then the age of twenty when this happened. It is sad that a young man like Kropp would even ever have to have thoughts of suicide because their leg was blown off. The war inflicted a lot of damage on the young soldiers lives and seemed to not benefit anyones life. Another thing that lingered in my head is this, "will make a grand feed. About twenty yards from our dug-out there is a small house that was used as an officers' billet. In the kitchen is an immense fireplace with two ranges,
The text, The Things They Carried', is an excellent example which reveals how individuals are changed for the worse through their first hand experience of war. Following the lives of the men both during and after the war in a series of short stories, the impact of the war is accurately portrayed, and provides a rare insight into the guilt stricken minds of soldiers. The Things They Carried' shows the impact of the war in its many forms: the suicide of an ex-soldier upon his return home; the lessening sanity of a medic as the constant death surrounds him; the trauma and guilt of all the soldiers after seeing their friends die, and feeling as if they could have saved them; and the deaths of the soldiers, the most negative impact a war
The returning of a dramatic event disables a soldier to adapt accordingly to everyday life. Ones conscious of reality is infringed upon Posttraumatic experiences of warfare, which unleashes an outbreak of inhumane actions directed towards existence and significant others. As the short story progresses after the event of the Vietnam War, the narrator says referring to Henry that:
In the incredible book, All Quiet on the Western Front written by Erich Maria Remarque, the reader follows Paul Baumer, a young man who enlisted in the war. The reader goes on a journey and watches Paul and his comrades face the sheer brutality of war. In this novel, the author tries to convey the fact that war should not be glorified. Through bombardment, gunfire, and the gruesome images painted by the author, one can really understand what it would have been like to serve on the front lines in the Great War. The sheer brutality of the war can be portrayed through literary devices such as personification, similes, and metaphors.
In the novel All Quiet on the Western Front, author Erich Maria Remarque adopts an exemplary use of diction and emotion to describe a critical moment in the life of the protagonist, Paul Bäumer, as he ends the life of the French soldier Gérard Duval. On a “patrol… sent out to discover just how strongly the enemy position is manned” (209), Paul dives into a shell hole for refuge from the lead storm above. Trapped, an alarmed Paul is forced to stay in the hole for an extended period of time as “minute after minute trickles away” (217), all the while fearfully attempting to escape. When the enemy troops begin to attack, Paul plans what he might do in advance in the event of one of them falling in the hole and finding him. He ultimately decides to pull his knife out as self-defense. When an enemy soldier stumbles and falls on top of him, without thinking and merely responding to survival instincts, Paul stabs the soldier. In that dire scene, Remarque depicts the entire perspective of war as it evolves for both the reader and the young Paul Bäumer. It is only until Paul (who represents the entirety of the armies) discovers what he has truly done as he kills and witnesses Gérard Duval’s life slowly drain from the pool of red on his chest, realizing that everybody is a human, much like himself.
In this final chapter, O’Brien strings the various threads of plot events together to form a cohesive message. Each of the major themes is illuminated as each of the major stories is retold mostly told about Vietnam and a younger version of himself
The Viet Nam War has been the most reviled conflict in United States history for many reasons, but it has produced some great literature. For some reason the emotion and depredation of war kindle in some people the ability to express themselves in a way that they may not have been able to do otherwise. Movies of the time period are great, but they are not able to elicit, seeing the extremely limited time crunch, the same images and charge that a well-written book can. In writing of this war, Tim O'Brien put himself and his memories in the forefront of the experiences his characters go through, and his writing is better for it. He produced a great work of art not only because he experienced the war first hand, but because he is able to convey the lives around him in such vivid detail. He writes a group of fictional works that have a great deal of truth mixed in with them. This style of writing and certain aspects of the book are the topics of this reflective paper.
Almost like in a manual for story writing, O’Brien starts out every part of this short story by giving away a supposedly important feature of a “true war story” and then giving a matching example to help the reader visualize his lesson.
War forces young soldiers to grow up quickly. In Stephen Crane’s Civil War novel, The Red Badge of Courage, Henry Fleming is no exception. He is faced with the hard reality of war and this forces him to readjust his romantic beliefs about war. Through the novel, the reader can trace the growth and development of Henry through these four stages: (1) romanticizing war and the heroic role each soldier plays, (2) facing the realities of war, (3) lying to himself to maintain his self-importance, and (4) realistic awareness of his abilities and place in life. Through Henry’s experiences in his path to self-discovery, he is strongly affected by events that help shape his ideology of war, death,
As long as there has been war, those involved have managed to get their story out. This can be a method of coping with choices made or a way to deal with atrocities that have been witnessed. It can also be a means of telling the story of war for those that may have a keen interest in it. Regardless of the reason, a few themes have been a reoccurrence throughout. In ‘A Long Way Gone,’ ‘Slaughterhouse-Five,’ and ‘Novel without a Name,’ three narrators take the readers through their memories of war and destruction ending in survival and revelation. The common revelation of these stories is one of regret. Each of these books begins with the main character as an innocent, patriotic soldier or civilian and ends in either the loss of innocence and regret of choices only to be compensated with as a dire warning to those that may read it. These books are in fact antiwar stories meant not to detest patriotism or pride for one’s country or way of life, but to detest the conditions that lead to one being so simpleminded to kill another for it. The firebombing of Dresden, the mass execution of innocent civilians in Sierra Leone and a generation of people lost to the gruesome and outlandish way of life of communism and Marxism should be enough to convince anyone. These stories serve as another perspective for the not-so-easily convinced.