AP Language and Composition G
6 June 2015
“Their Heaviest Burden”: Fear, Upbringing and Moral Supremacy as Societal Divisors Throughout history, philosophers have debated the nature of man as good or evil, and the texts To Kill a Mockingbird, James Whale’s Frankenstein (1931), and Vietnam War memoir The Things They Carried all detail this philosophical debate. It is argued that man is inherently of one moral fiber or another, predispositioned towards one nature or another. However, this argument is shallow and does not address what forms evil in the first place. As shown in To Kill a Mockingbird, James Whale’s Frankenstein (1931), and The Things They Carried, man is not born a monster. The surrounding…show more content… O’Brien’s provocative statements about the draft, combined with Chen’s assessment of the definition of exile in the novel, reveals a disconnect between the idealized hero of soldiers in the American imagination with the reality of those who joined the draft. The public being largely uneducated and indifferent about the causes of the Vietnam War at the time, people largely joined the war solely to avoid the prejudice placed on people who actively refused to participate. O 'Brien reveals through this example that when faced with societal pressure, people are capable of participating in horrific activities such as a gruesome, bloody war that they would never otherwise agree to.
Once on the battlefield, fear consumes O 'Brien and his comrades. Fear was an ever-present, invisible force that haunted the soldiers, and its impact is so great that the troops begin to hallucinate and ascribe supernatural properties to their enemies. For example, their enemies mysteriousness in fighting guerilla warfare makes it seem to the Americans that the land itself was fighting against them, with the enemies being described as "ghosts" who had powers such as "levitation, floating, flying, and