Essay about Speaking of Courage

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Speaking of Courage In the literary work, Speaking of Courage, Tim O’Brien highlights the trying struggle of a post-war solider attempting desperately to integrate himself back into American society. Paul Berlin’s trials and tribulations exemplify the “dominance of a citizen culture in the United States,” as mentioned by Dr. Decker in class. American society does not allow for the soldiers we have sent off to fight to return as warriors.
While Speaking of Courage is based on Paul’s experience after the Vietnam War the effect of the citizen culture can be seen throughout history. Americans are not generally known to have an imperial, blood thirsty nature. We choose to “conquer” the world using business or other non-violent means.
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We see this in Speaking of Courage when Paul is remarking on how no one will speak to him about the war, even “his father would not talk.” (pg. 244) It was Independence Day, “the war was over, (and for Paul) there was no place in particular to go.” (pg. 243) O’Brien remarks on many of the towns folk and their preparations for the evening and yet Paul chooses to “hide” (Dr. Decker) in his fathers Chevy. One who is more comfortable spending hours driving aimlessly on a summer holiday, dwelling on medals lost rather than joining in the festivities, can certainly not be deemed fully integrated back into society. As mentioned in class “Paul’s obsessive nature shows his intense need to talk about his experiences and his need for assurance that he was brave.” Unfortunately, in our citizen culture, this is often not something that we are willing to listen to. Upon returning home, many of the members of our armed forces are and were viewed as spectral or haunting. Each soldier can be a reminder of something no one wants to think about: war.

Speaking of Courage seriously captures what it is like for a soldier to attempt to return to their homeland and have to stop being a soldier due to the citizen culture that influences his or her society. Americans may be squeamish about war but they are ready and willing to send our

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