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The Anti-War Message of In the Lake of the Woods and How I Learned to Sweepp - Essay Example

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The Anti-War Message of In the Lake of the Woods and How I Learned to Sweep Tim O’Brien’s In the Lake of the Woods and Julia Alvarez’s How I Learned to Sweep are two classic examples of protest literary works. As an art form, both applied aesthetics in presenting ideas that are basically in opposition to the policies of the government…
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The Anti-War Message of In the Lake of the Woods and How I Learned to Sweepp

Download file to see previous pages... This is because of the manner or style that the both Alvarez and O’Brien applied in expressing their ideas. In terms of style, both authors definitely differ and this can be attributed also to the fact that the historical context of the novel and poem are not the same. In terms of substance, they also have some differences which is again brought about the different social, emotional, and historical context of the characters created. Apparently, the differences stem from the fact that the authors’ involvement in the war that they were protesting against also differed. Nevertheless, each expressed profoundly through their respective literary works their opposition to the war due to bases that they have tackled through the characters they created. In the Lake of the Woods is a story of how one individual had to fight his own personal battles long after the Vietnam War ended. As the writer, O’Brien may well be considered as an authority on the subject because he too was once an infantryman in the said war. He did not only see the bloodshed or understood why these happened; he was very much involved in it. He was not a third party observer; he played an active role. O’Brien, therefore, felt what the rest of the American servicemen experienced while they were fighting a war they believed should not be fought. As his book apparently proves, he was one of the many soldiers who fought a war that he opposes. His opposition to the war though is presented through the perspective of the soldier and not from the vantage point of the anti-war and non-soldier activist that was more popular during the times when the Vietnam War was at its peak. Because of this, O’Brien credibly presents the arguments against the war using psychological and emotional bases. He may have cited the J.W. Appel and G.W. Beebe when he wrote that “psychiatric casualties are as inevitable as gunshot and shrapnel wounds in warfare.” (O’Brien 27) However, he did so not because he believes that such conclusion is intellectually accurate but because he saw his comrades suffer psychological problems resulting from the war and he himself may have felt the same too. John Wade, the main character in the story, is basically personification of O’Brien’s argument against the war. It must be emphasized though that such argument could be best defended and promoted only when the psychological issues arise, which obviously occurs after the individual goes home from the battlefront; a condition which is often regarded as post-traumatic stress disorder. The conditions surrounding Julia Alvarez are much different to those of O’Brien and her poem How I Learned to Sweep is greatly influenced by these. Alvarez saw the war from the perspective of a non-participant. She found it disgusting not because it directly affects her personally. She did not suffer psychological and emotional issues arising from it but she did see the violence and bloodshed that people had to go through for being in the war. While O’Brien felt the horrors that his fellow soldiers went through, Alvarez expressed pity for both the fighters and civilians caught in the war. In the Lake of the Woods is the result of O’Brien’s empathy while Alvarez displayed sympathy in her poem. In the poem, she wrote the lines “I swept all the harder when/ I watched a dozen of them die.” (Alvarez) Obviously, the poet depicted how she reacted upon the sight of so much death. ...Download file to see next pagesRead More
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