The Use of Setting in Tim O'Brien's 'The Story of the Song Tra Bong'

Essay by Jack HandyCollege, UndergraduateA, October 1996

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It's ok. Could use a little work. I would only recommend it as 'another view point' when considering writing about this. She loved. If it wasn't the first essay, it would have done better.

Where does the story of Sweetheart of the Song Tra Bong take place? Upon reading the story, one would first assume that it takes place in Vietnam. Upon further examination, however, it becomes quite evident that it really takes place inside Rat Kiley's head. This isn't to declare the story false; instead, one should examine the influence and literary freedom that Rat flexes upon the truth. 'For Rat Kiley... facts were formed by sensation, not the other way around.' (101) The story occurs in two separate but equally chaotic places: Vietnam, and Rat's head. The story intertwines between the two settings, and in order to completely grasp the idea behind them, one must first recognize, then separate and analyze the two settings.

Upon the first reading of this work, the reader finds himself dropping into the story of a seemingly misplaced girl in Vietnam. The role of Rat Kiley seems somewhat minor and irrelevant. Upon the second and third times through, however, his role as the storyteller stands out. It becomes more evident that he holds Mary Anne with the highest regard. He romanticizes her relationship with the war. He is so amazed with the fact that a girl can be seduced by the lure of the wilderness that he begins to talk about her with the listeners as if she were the attractive girl from school that everyone knows but nobody dates. ' 'You know...I loved her. Mary Anne made you think about those girls back home, how clean and innocent they all are.' ' (123)

Rat is pushing his views upon...