Essay about Blending Reality and Fantasy in Going After Cacciato

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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
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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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