Sorrow Of War Essay Thesis

The Sorrow Of War Essay

It can be hard to fully comprehend the effects the Vietnam War had on not just the veterans, but the nation as a whole. The violent battles and acts of war became all too common during the long years of the conflict. The war warped the soldiers and civilians characters and desensitized their mentalities to the cruelty seen on the battlefield. Bao Ninh and Tim O’Brien, both veterans of the war, narrate their experiences of the war and use the loss of love as a metaphor for the detrimental effects of the years of fighting.
Bao Ninh’s novel The Sorrow of War tells a very realistic and explicit story of Kien, a North Vietnamese soldier and writer, during the Vietnam War. Kien manages to survive, usually by luck, through battles and situations in which survival seems futile. When Kien’s entire platoon is killed in battle, he is one of the few to survive. This seems to be a blessing and a curse as Kien had “perhaps watched more killings and seen more corpses than any other contemporary writer” (Ninh, 89).
As one can imagine, Kien is haunted daily by gruesome hallucinations and memories from the battlefield. Kien begins to write about his war experiences, which turns into an obsession. He claims it is obligated as his duty to write about the war, and yet “seems to write only to rid himself of his devils” (Ninh, 49). His motivation is to “expose the realities of war and the tear aside conventional images” (Ninh, 50).
It is not just Kien whose life is destroyed by the war. Kien tells of a driver Vuong who, before the war, drank very little and was kind a timid. Vuong disappears for many months and when he returns his life has collapsed. “I’ve given up driving, fellas. Now alcohol drives me,” Voung states (Ninh, 152). Kien touches on how tragic and common this breakdown of a life is, “it was sad, almost unbelievable, that such a tough and courageous fighter could fall so quickly in the postwar days” (Ninh, 152). Kien also succumbs to alcoholism throughout the novel to try to hide the pain of the war. He does much of his writing while drunk at night time, at one point becoming almost nocturnal saying “At ight, when all around him grows dim, Kien feels closer to life” (Ninh, 116).
Kien mentions multiple times throughout the novel the desensitizing effect the war has had on not just his personality and emotions, but his entire life. Kien reminiscences about his youth when he was still capable of love, saying it “was now hard to imagine, hard to remember a time when his whole personality and character had been intact, a time before the cruelty and destruction had warped his soul” (Ninh, 30).
Ninh’s novel jumps between flashbacks of the war and Kien’s love affairs, in particular one with his childhood sweetheart Phuong. Ninh uses the reoccurring theme of Kien’s love, or loss of love, as a metaphor for the impact the war had on the Vietnamese people. The original title of the novel is actually The Destiny of Love. Kien likens the war to a...

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Essay Topic 1

One theme of the novel is survivor guilt. Discuss how this theme is presented in the story.

Essay Topic 2

Kien was never in love with the real Phuong. Is this statement true or false? Explain your answer with details from the text.

Essay Topic 3

What is meant by the term writing style? What is the author’s writing style in this novel? How might the reader be impacted by the author’s style?

Essay Topic 4

Identify three major themes of the story. How are they expressed in the character of Kien?

Essay Topic 5

Kien, the North Vietnamese, and the South Vietnamese are all victims of this war. Do you agree or disagree? Support your reasoning with the text of the novel.

Essay Topic 6

Why does Kien write after the war? What does Kien hope to achieve with his writing? How is Kien’s writing helpful to...

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