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During the entire novel of The Sorrow of War Kien is on a quest to find closure for all the death he has encountered during the war. One of Kiens attempts to get rid of his sorrows and get some closure is when he attempts to burn the novels he has writ

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The great love story of the Sorrow of War is one painted with nostalgia, disappointment and a pathetic sense of beautiful disaster. 'Ordinary love', as Kien refers to it, is rapt with nonsense and petty elations. With a sense of nostalgia, Kien notes, 'Those were the days when all of us were young, pure and sincere.' Most intrinsic is this purity of lien. Never consummated, Kien and Phuong's relationship is 'so intimate, so perfect, that it made [Kien] ache', grieving him years on, while the reader is drawn into the immeasurable sadness of a very two-dimensional relationship. There is a conscious effort, in fact, to maintain this purity on Kien's part: while Phuong tempts, teases and cajoles, he 'dared not accept her challenge to make love to her.' As the text's central romantic relationship, it is difficult to belittle, yet its sheer impotence is ridiculous. Kien and Phuong, while soul-mates, are nonetheless teenagers and, should the rest of his life not have been rooted in disaster, this little love-story might have ended in a mere spat. War having destroyed this possibility, her 'beautiful youth' manifests itself as a symbol of the 'lost opportunities' of his youthful love. By presenting to us their tragedy, Ninh intimates his disapproval on some aspect of their coupling. Could this be a warning nod on the pointless exaltation and frivolities of teenage love? Is pubescence is an unfit state for love? Kien talks of their romance as being 'tinged with painful forebodings of disaster': while it is in fact the war that provokes this disaster, why should it not have been the painful process of maturity? This may also be comment on what happens should love and sex be separated. As sexual connection gets taken out of love's equation, Ninh presents to us a rather hollow liaison which, while heart-rendingly exquisite in its desperate purity, remains a hopeless what-could-have-been, infiltrating Kien's dreams even in adulthood. ...read more.


This shows how much her relationship and the events that occurred with Kien made her stronger and not weaker. Even at the end when their feelings were never spoken out to one another; they went their own separate ways, with silent feelings for each other that were never spoken in words. Kien, once a typical innocent youngster who wished to finish his education and enjoy life with loved ones. However his utopia has been intervened and destroyed by ten continuous years of war, fighting for the peasant's ideology, Communism and an experience worth dying for - independence. Throughout the novel of "The Sorrow of War", the reader witnesses Kien's change in personality due ten longer years of war with the French and Americans. The chaos and destruction from fighting has brought Kien's state of mind to the test. I will evaluate how the havoc surroundings have changed his attitude towards life itself. Moreover, how and in what ways has the war changed himself as a human being. At the beginning of the novel, the reader initially perceives Kien as a na�ve and innocent youngster, shown by his superstition that if he and his comrades had not finished the game of cards, they would be watched over by the Gods, and be able to finish the game later, "Slow Down a bit...If we leave this game unfinished Heaven will grant favors, keeping us alive to return and finish the game." However his comrades fall one by one, leaving him in despair, and grief, "Kien sinks into reminiscence" which has contributed in making Kien to have somewhat of a death wish, "The enemy had fired continuously from behind a tree ahead of him but Kien hadn't even bothered to duck. He walked on lazily, seemingly oblivious to the fire." to relieve himself from the endless suffering and join his fellow comrades in heaven, "He just wanted to be safe, to die quietly, sharing the fate of an insect or an ant in the war...happy to die with the regular troops." ...read more.


'Some of us said it was mountain ghosts, but Kien knew it was love's lament.' Chronologically prior to this but in terms of the book, later on, Kien's and Phuong's trip to the lake is a sharp contrast to this first heartbreaking love story. Both barely children, their petty acts of rebellion seem deeply exciting and delightful. It is ironic, once again, that this should take place while the others are playing war games: everything is light and insubstantial and, unlike the soldiers, no despair or bitterness hangs over their liaisons. Perhaps with the aid of nostalgia, in Kien's memory, the day is 'so intimate, so perfect, that it made [Kien] ache.' Their love is the only thing on their minds and, as such, they are able to experience it fully without the torments of prior heartbreak or the eventuality of upcoming death. At the end of this passage, however, Ninh uses his repeating motif of water to demonstrate that this flawlessness cannot last. Their encounter at the lake is a languidly peaceful stretch of the river. It is the 'long, new stretch of river, full of fire' in Kien's life that will rip the two apart with the sorrow of war. Although he establishes war's ability to conquer love, Ninh nonetheless compares the effect of war to the sensation of heartbreak. 'It was a sadness, a missing, a pain.' By doing this, not only does he make an ironic comment upon one's relationship with the mistress of War, but also succeeds in demonstrating the ways in which they are truly alike and can reduce grown men to emotional wrecks. Ninh's depiction of love lost is essentially a dull ache of sadness which sharpens with any specific trigger. It is interesting to note, however, that, on the 'recognition of some wonderful truth inside him'; Kien claims that it feels like 'love'. In this way, Ninh is able to show the last straw of hopefulness in relation to love than Kien and the other soldiers cling to. Ninh's depiction of love in war is powerfully sad. ...read more.

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