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Sorrow of War Essay

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Below is an essay on "Sorrow of War" from Anti Essays, your source for research papers, essays, and term paper examples.

In Bao Ninh’s The Sorrow of War, the main protagonist Kien fought as part of the North Vietnamese brigade. Because he was the lone survivor of his brigade, Kien carries the psychological burden of survivor’s guilt, as he watched his comrades and friends get killed in battle and sacrifice their lives for him and countless others. But what also helped keep Kien alive was the memory of love. Throughout the war, he always kept memories of his childhood love, Phuong, and those memories are what drove him to keep fighting. However, a close examination of the relationship between Kien and Phuong before and after the war reveals that love is shown to serve a different purpose: serving as a metaphor for war. In both love and war, there is a sign of hope in the beginning, until a loss is suffered from, and then trauma is experienced at the end. During their youth before the war, “Kien and Phuong became inseparable, like a body and its shadow. They clung to each other as if there were no tomorrow, as if there were no time to lose and every moment should be spent together” (131), emphasizing the immense love they had for each other that defined their relationship as childhood lovers. But when the Vietnam War occurs, their lives drastically changed for the worst as their love became irreconcilable, leading each of the characters to go on their own separate ways. They continue to hold on to the memories of the past and an idealized notion of love that they refuse to pull away from because it is the only sign of hope they have left in their lives since it was destroyed by the war.

Before examining the trauma that stemmed from love, it must be established that the turning point that changed Kien and Phuong’s love for the worst is the rape that Phuong endures right at the beginning of the war. The metaphor of love as war is strongly defined at the moment during the first aerial strike where he sees “the incredible sight of Phuong lying prone on the floor, fighting a big man on...

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