You Can't Hack It Little Girl

Essay by PaperNerd ContributorCollege, Undergraduate October 2001

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In the article "You Cant Hack it Little Girl", Eisenhart's main thesis is centered in military basic training and the extreme emotional conflicts it causes within those whom are subject to the training. He brakes up the psychological experience into three interlocking components: acceptance of psychological control, equating masculine identity with military performance, and associating the entire military mission with raw aggression.

Kubrick's "Full Metal Jacket" clearly demonstrates the three steps of the psychological break down and is most obviously seen in the transformation of the character Pvt. Pyle. He comes to the Marine Corps as a naive, harmless young man who is guided by the optimism that he is doing some good for his country.

Because of his inability to perform the tasks presented to him sufficiently, and his passiveness toward life, he is constantly verbally and physically insulted by the drill instructor, Gunnery Sgt. Hartman.

Joker, the Pvt.

Squad leader, takes it upon himself to become a maternal help in his life in the Marine Corps. He helps his dress properly, and tutors him in the various lessons they must learn as soldiers. A distinct change in both of these men is seen when Pyle, much like Pvt. Green in Eisenhart's article, fails at becoming an exemplary soldier. Both of them let down their squad by being insufficient in their tasks. The drill sergeant In both cases makes the chain suffer as a result of the weak link. After the squads grueling exercise, their weak link is physically beaten by his peers, as Eisenhart wrote, "in a carefully orchestrated ritual of exorcism." After the hazing incident, Pyle becomes a reborn marine. He begins to take a newfound pride in himself, and his abilities and especially his rifle. He also acquires the blank stare, the automated response, and even the approval of his drill instructor to the point where he is offered a position in the Hartman's infantry should he keep up his merits. His psychological break down is obvious to the audience, and his squad, especially Joker who seems obviously concerned when they ready themselves to clean their rifles. Pyle, in a very regimented and eerie way reiterates each step while cleaning his gun.

The break down culminates in the last scene of the boot camp segment of the film. Joker finds Pyle in the latrine wearing nothing but his boxer shorts and marine shirt, holding his rifle with full metal jacket and carrying a blank stare. Only this time, his demeanor is that of a soldier completely over the edge. He is completely broken to the point where he is not only harmful to the enemy, but his squad and himself. This is obvious when Hartman bursts in and attempts to order him to stand down and surrender his weapon. Rather than comply, Pyle turns the gun away from himself and toward the drill instructor.

He omits his final aggression by shooting Sgt. Hartman through the chest. Then turning the gun on himself, the psychological break down is complete.

Both Eisenhart's article and "Full Metal Jacket" vividly depict the key steps and players involved in what the wrong influence in the armed forces can do to a person.