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Hamburger Hill The Things They Carried - Essay Example

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John Irvin’s movie Hamburger Hill and Tim O’Brien’s essay “The Things They Carried” provide fictionalized accounts of the firsthand experiences of soldiers in the Vietnam War. Both works showed how the young men who participated in the war prepared to go into battle and described the toll that battle took on them once they found themselves in combat…
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Hamburger Hill The Things They Carried
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"Hamburger Hill The Things They Carried"

Download file to see previous pages Irvin’s film showed that one of the first things that the soldiers faced when arriving “in country” was a stark reminder of the serous risk to their lives, as they were asked to sign insurance papers and various other legal forms in case they did not survive. This legal reminder of the danger that faced them was backed up by a serious of training talks given them while in camp, including sessions showing them how serious, stealthy, and committed their enemies were, and even how such normal personal concerns such as hygiene and communication could lead to injury or death. At every level, the new recruits were told to follow orders and to respect their fellow soldiers, and they were told that the only way they would come out alive is if they stuck together. This was perhaps the major theme of Irvin’s film and it played a strong element in O’Brien’s essay, in the story of the dead soldier Lavender, who died because he wandered off. This process of early acclimation also included instruction on the use of weapons and the necessity of negotiating the many different factors that they would face during the war, from physical wounds to sexually transmitted diseases to psychological wounds from opinions of the people back home when they returned. O’Brien describes the variety of planned and makeshift provisions that the soldiers carried with them into battle, including bug spray, odd superstitious charms, and varieties of weapons. Each man carried their own materials, but O’Brien’s essay suggests and Irvin’s film represents that they also carried their humanity, their hopes and fears. Only in the battle did they also learn to love each and appreciate each other and stick together. Irvin’s film spends a great deal of time in the early moments showing the soldiers horsing around and fighting, listening to music and playing cards, in order to stress the need for camaraderie among the soldiers. One of the keys to this camaraderie was following their leader without question. While the new recruits learned to take this lesson in stride during the early training, they didn’t quite believe it. When they are dropped in the combat zone at minute 41:20, one new recruit tries to calm the nerves of another by saying “these guys know what they’re doing” in regard to their officers. The nervous recruit replied with a sarcastic “Oh yeah, definitely.” By the end of the film, all such sarcasm had disappeared. They had seen the necessity of trusting one another and pulling together in the heat of fire. They had learned that their leaders and the bravery of their fellow soldiers was perhaps the most important thing ensuring their survival. O’Brien’s essay echoes this sentiment, as he relays the feelings of the fictional leader of the platoon he describes. He shows how Lt. Cross takes personally the loss of soldier under his command because he lost focus for a moment. He claims that Cross “felt the pain... blamed himself” (p. 6). He had become distracted by his own humanity and his own personal needs for a moment and the soldier had wandered off, not to fight but to urinate. He was killed. Both works stress the way soldiers kept each other honest and diligent, looking out for each other even as they argued among each other. One of the major themes that Irvin emphasizes throughout his film is the difficulties of navigating race ...Download file to see next pagesRead More
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