Primary dilemma: creating a realistic documentary about war.
Wounded soldier is asked to smile for the camera—he is hurt. Director wants a good movie, more action in the operating room, not a movie that is necessarily realistic. They movie would be used as propaganda to glorify war.
Satire to make fun of the original documentary. The final lines Hawkeye delivers are even more powerful in contrast. Funny scenes: Radar’s glasses, posing in boxers, Hawkeye’s eyebrows (looks like Groucho Marx), doctor’s watch sewn up inside patient.
Portrayal of war:
Unpredictability, waiting is perilous since death could be around the corner, M*A*S*H uses comedy to get at the truth. The Things They Carried uses dark humor. Both deal with death—death becomes normalized. O’Brien creates slow motion with the action of the plot.
Hawkeye tells people the things that they don’t want to hear. He is taking care of wounded soldiers, but doesn’t want to glorify it. Doing the right thing can mean operating outside the rules (giving the young soldier the Purple Heart medal).
English notes on “The Dentist” and notes to help you with “Sweetheart” for Friday
Dentist came and Curt Lemon fainted. Lemon has a perfectly good tooth pulled in order to save himself from embarrassment. At the end of the chapter Lemon smiles and feels better. His manhood, not his tooth, is fixed.
Shows a depiction of a man at war who “loses face” when presented with a fear of the dentist.
Consider appearance and the role of masculinity
Didn’t know Curt Lemon well—he seemed to always play the tough soldier role, had a high opinion of himself (or was he just insecure, and acting tough?)
Dentist visits soldiers. Curt Lemon was anxious, fidgeting, claims he had a bad dental experience. Lemon fainted before the dentist touched him.
After fainting, he wouldn’t talk to anyone and sat alone under a tree (embarrassed).
Lemon told the dentist he had a toothache and urged the dentist to yank out a perfectly good tooth. Lemon overcame his fear, and saved his reputation
“Sweetheart of the Song of Tra Bong”
Tim tells Rat’s storyRat’s story is about Mark Fossie and his girlfriend
Rat—reputation for exaggeration and overstatement of his stories. Most men in the troop knew this. Rat wanted to “heat up the truth, to make it burn so hot that you would feel exactly what he felt.”
This story, however, Rat never backed down from
Rat said “I saw it, man. I was right there. This guy did it.” Rat’s answer to Sanders
We find out that Rat’s story is regarding a soldier who got his blonde girlfriend to come to war
In the village of Tra Bong the men didn’t have to keep the same standards—could grow their hair, didn’t have to polish their boots, could drink cold beer
Green Berets—loners by nature, “Greenies” who avoided associating with the others
Rat said he felt safe there—seemed like the war was far away and things were peaceful. Men played volleyball, lazed away the afternoons, drank
Eddie Diamond—came up with the idea to have Vietnamese women come to sleep with the soldiers there. Another solider, Mark Fossie, brought the subject up again.
Mark Fossie’s 17 year old girlfriend showed up (Mary Anne) 6 weeks after the conversation
Fossie said it was expensive and complicated, but he was able to fly Mary Anne to Vietnam. He says he was able to do this because he wanted it enough.
Fossie and Mary Anne Bell were high school sweethearts who were in love. They planned on marrying one day.
Mary Anne—“good for morale” and fun to have around. Fossie was very much in love for her.
Mary Anne learned Vietnamese, cooked rice, learned about the base, trip flares, etc. She wanted to learn more about the land and who lived there. She seemed “at home” there and loved to see the simplicity of village life. Eddie knew she would learn about war measures.
Rat reenters the narration. He tells the men that by the end of the second week Mary Anne wasn’t afraid to get her hands bloody. She took care of 4 casualties. She learned how to tend to bloody victims—clipped arteries, made splints. She amazed Mark Fossie.
Mary Anne stopped wearing jewelry, cut her hair short, didn’t wear make-up, learned how to disassemble a gun (M 16)—she became confident and changed into a soldier.
Mary Anne didn’t want to go home. Her relationship with Mark changed—she now expressed her thoughts. She questioned the amount of kids she wanted, living together before marriage, etc. She didn’t seem bubbly, nervous or giggly. At night she looked into the dark in silence. She said she was never happier in her whole life.
One morning Fossie told Rat that he couldn’t find Mary Anne—she was gone. Fossie claimed Mary Anne was sleeping with an 18 year old (Eddie Diamond?—we find out it wasn’t him).
Rat and Fossie search for Mary Anne. She wasn’t with the other soldiers in their troop. They search the mess hall, helipad, etc.
Rat, when telling the story looks at Sanders for “his vote” as to what happened to her. Sanders thinks she snuck off with the Green Berets.
Mary Anne came back. She wore a bush hat and fatigues. She told Fossie they would talk later. He wanted to know NOW what happened.
Fossie set down “rules” and Mary Anne went back to being shampooed, wearing nice clothing, being polite. She looked to Fossie for clearance when others asked her about the Green Beret ambush.
Fossie reveals that he and Mary Anne are engaged. They “compromised” on things.
Mary Anne and Fossie sunbathed together, seemed perfect—however it “seemed” like they were prefect but they weren’t
If Mary Anne left Fossie’s side he would tense up.
Fossie made arrangements to send Mary Anne home. Mary Anne became gloomy and “seemed to disappear inside herself”---“The wilderness seemed to draw her in” and it was “as if she had come up on the edge of something, as if she were caught in that no-man’s land between the Cleveland Heights and deep jungle” (100).
Rat sees silhouettes in the distance. He said he saw Mary Anne’s eyes (now jungle green, not blue).
Mary Anne had a weapon and was with Special Forces.
When Rat usually tells a story he goes off topic to clarify things. Sanders would redirect Rat back to telling the story. Sanders believed digressions changed the flow of the story.
Rat said that she “joined the zoo”—end of story
Fossie waited for Mary Anne all day. Rat cautions Fossie that he shouldn’t mess with “Greenie types”
After midnight Rat and Eddie went to check on Fossie. He was swaying to music—he thought he heard Mary Anne.
The men enter a room—decaying animals, stench. Rat said he couldn’t process it all. The background music came from a tape deck—the high voice was Mary Anne’s.