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Symbolism in The Sorrow of War "

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Introduction

IB English A1 The Sorrow of War Symbolism. Below are several symbols used in the sorrow of war. You need to find as many quotes as you can associated with each symbol (recording page numbers) and then explain the purpose and effect of Nihn?s use of this symbol. The Jungle ?In the 3rd Regiment, hiding in the Screaming Souls Jungle, the soldiers waited in fear, hoping they would not be ordered in as support forces, to hurl themselves into the arena to almost certain death. (Ninh 15) ?This is the Jungle of Screaming Souls. It looks empty and innocent, but in fact it?s crowded. There are so many ghosts and devils all over this battleground! I?ve been driving for this corpse-collecting team since early seventy-three but I still can?t get used to the passengers who come out of their graves to talk to me. ? All kinds of ghosts, new soldiers, old soldiers, soldiers from the 1-th Division, the 2nd Division, soldiers from the provincial armed forces, the 320th Mobile Forces, 559 Corps, sometimes women, and every now and again some southern souls, from Saigon.? (Ninh 41) ?The mountains and jungles are water-soaked and dull. Wet trees. Quiet jungles.? (Ninh 3) ?Even into early December, weeks after the end of the normal rainy season, the jungles this year are still as muddy as all hell. They are forgotten by peace, damaged or impassable?? (Ninh 3) ?That was the dry season when the sun burned harshly, the wind blew fiercely, and the enemy sent napalm spraying through the jungle and a sea of fire enveloped them, spreading like the fires of hell.? (Ninh 5) ?No jungle grew again in this clearing. No grass. No plants.? (Ninh 5) In the novel The Sorrow of War the jungle symbolizes the Vietnamese people who are affected by the war. From soldier to civilian, Vietnamese people who are dead in the war appears as ghosts in the Jungle as the long descriptive quote ?This is the Jungle of Screaming Souls. ...read more.

Middle

I've tried to discipline myself, to fulfill my duties, no disobedience, no gambling, no alcohol, no dope, no women, no swearing. And for what? All for nothing! I'm not jealous, just depressed (Ninh 20) ?Often she would bring alcohol and cigarettes for him, something Kien had not done.? (Ninh 129) ?Kien began drinking. There was plenty of free booze at the airport. He wandered around watching the soldiers looting, and joined in the drinking and destruction.? (Ninh 106) ?One after another he downed the cups of brandy, the way a barbarian would, as id to insult life.? (Ninh 107) ?The drinking continues, but the work continues too.? (Ninh 194) ?Kien supposed nothing was terribly wrong with eating and drinking normally to help recover after such a catastrophe.? (Ninh 214) Alcohol is used as symbol for optimization and its purpose is to underline the sorrow of Vietnamese people. In the first quote alcohol is said to provide Cu a dream of him returning home which is what he desperately wanted. So it shows that alcohol helps people think positively and through this description of alcohol?s effect, the author highlights the contrasting sorrow of people in reality. Similarly, in the second quote, repetition of word ?no? with alcohol and exclamation mark emphasizes that without alcohol, Can can?t think positively but feel jealousy and depression. Similarly, alcohol is described very positively in other quotes and these emphasize the sorrow of Vietnamese people damaged by the war by showing how Kien and other characters desperately want alcohol to overcome the harsh reality and think positively. Trees ?It seemed to the soldiers talking about these mystical happenings that intense physical pain could mingle with the earth and grow into the trees in the jungle? (Ninh 98) ?Kien zigzagged through burning houses and wrecked buildings, fallen trees and power lines.? (Ninh 211) ?Here, when it is dark, trees and plants moan in awful harmony.? (Ninh 6) ...read more.

Conclusion

Slowly the destruction of war was getting to Kien. He starts to turn mean and cruel after seeing lots of death. When he runs into four men who have killed innocent girls his first instinct is to kill the men even the young man who had nothing to do with it. The young man pleads for his life saying he will do anything to live and Kien responds harshly. ??So, you don?t mind dying? I?ll satisfy you, with as much blood as you wasn?t.? Kien was shouting then laughing grimly??(38). Ninh almost makes Kien sound insane, and one would have to be insane to want to kill four men when he has already seen so much corruption. This shows how corrupt Kien had become because if he was younger just going into the war he would never want to kill four men. As each day went on and as Kien saw more and more death he became more corrupt. His memories began to haunt him, ?From now on life may be always dark, full of suffering, with brief moments of happiness? (44). Kien will never be able to get over the war, it destroyed his spirit. After the war he turns to drinking and writing to help him overcome his corruption. I know that when my grandfather came back he drank more heavily than before. He never said why he drank more or what happened to him in the war. People who go to war never come back the same, they usually come back as a different person because they have seen so much destruction. Kien goes to war young and hopeful of the future, he comes out depressed and ready to die. He watches as each one of his friends die and how he gets off lucky. War can do awful things to people like it made Kien an alcoholic and very unhappy. Kien spent his youth in the war and the rest of his life remembering and being haunted by it. ...read more.

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