An analysis of the character Le Ly in Oliver Stone's "Heaven and Earth"

Essay by dwpjokerHigh School, 12th grade April 2002

download word file, 3 pages 4.6

Downloaded 63 times

"The Spoils of War"

In Oliver Stone's Heaven and Earth, Le Ly is born into a time of tranquility, in which the people of her village live as they have for many centuries. Everything is structured; everyone has his place. Then a warplane streaks across the sky, and in a moment all she knows is destroyed. Le Ly's destiny will take her from the rice fields of Vietnam to the suburbs of California.

For average farmers who only wanted to tend their crops, the war brought horrendous choices. Le Ly's village is visited both by Viet Cong propagandists and American and South Vietnamese advisers. Originally she sides with the Vietcong because her brother chose to join their ranks. She eventually grows to hate both sides, however, she will cooperate when asked to, out of fear for her life. We see her savagely mistreated by men from both sides, who effortlessly transform their patriotic passion into the act of rape.

She is then separated from her family, joins aimless ranks of refugees, and finds herself in Saigon in an economy where the Americans had all the money, and a lot of them were buying drugs and sex. Not too much sooner has Le Ly made the transition from farmer to a lower/middle class urban citizen when Steve Butler sweeps her off of her feet in his search for an Oriental wife. Again she is forced to change her lifestyle and adapt to her surroundings. Not only does she adapt, but she also takes command. Le Ly arrives in America as Mrs. Steve Butler, to a land where the grocery store shelves seem to reach endlessly in every direction and her in-laws view her as something between a pet and a scandal.

Stone was trying to convey how difficult it was...