IB English 11
The Desperate Coping Mechanisms of War and its Parasitic Aftermath
While wars are recorded with specific start and end dates, their effects last for much longer than their historical records. The interminable list of effects is impartial, affecting all people regardless of race, age, or gender. War is a time when people are forced to find strength in dangerous, unlikely places. There is a need to carry on, despite the sacrifices and casualties. The young, lanky men that are drafted are forced to carry the physical burdens of war equipment, and on the home front, women and children are forced to find the strength to carry on with their lives, knowing they may never see their loved ones ever again. These burdens are only the short term ones. There are dangerous long term effects of exposure to conditions that require the resilience to bury the emotions stirred by perceiving not only the gruesome reality of war but also the realities it implies.
Coping is the only way to deal with challenges they face, and while the mechanisms used may be questionable, they are crucial for survival. Tim O'Brien's The Things They Carried and Barbara Sonneborn's documentary, Regret to Inform, expose the parasitic nature of the long term effects of war and the desperate measures all those involved in war must take in order to hide their vulnerabilities and do what is necessary to survive.
The soldiers in The Things They Carried display the pressure to "be a man" during war times as the opinions and mannerisms of their fellow soldiers affect their decisions and perspectives. They must not show each other their weaknesses, otherwise they will be perceived as cowards. O'Brien states that, "They were too frightened to be cowards" (22), using...