Letter To John Steinbeck's 'On The Rainy River'

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On the Rainy River If you received a letter one day saying you had to leave everything and everyone behind and go to war, would you be willing to give your life up for your country? Would you be able to live with the blood of others on your hands? During the Vietnam war from 1961-1975, which began as a civil war between North and South Vietnam, many draft dodgers left Vietnam and fled to other countries such as U.S.A, Canada and New Zealand. A draft dodger is someone who avoids a national military recruitment without a valid leave of absence and with no intention of returning back to the service. Canadian immigration statistics show that 20,000 to 30,000 draft-eligible American men came to Canada as immigrants during the Vietnam era. 50%…show more content…
Why did people not want to serve their country? Some thought the war was unfair and others believed that the U.S. was the aggressor in the conflict. Some simply didn't want to put their life on the line in the military at war.“On the Rainy River” weighs the guilt of avoiding the draft against the guilt of committing atrocities against other humans.Upon receipt of the draft, Tim is faced with a conflict, a “moral emergency” as he describes it. Tim describes what most people think they would do in the case of such a “moral emergency”;“All of us, I suppose, like to believe that in a moral emergency we will behave like the heroes of our youth, bravely and forthrightly, without thought or personal loss or discredit” (pg.70).The only way that he can avoid his guilt is by taking a course of action that will make him feel guilty anyways. If he goes to war, he will feel guilty for ignoring his own objection to United States involvement in the Vietnam War, but the only way to avoid this guilt is by gaining the disapproval of his community, which will result in shame There are a number of reasons as to why Tim withheld sharing his story of how he dodged the draft, but they all stem from one very basic human…show more content…
“It was my view then, and still is, that you don’t make war without knowing why”. (pg. 71) Since day one, Tim has taken a stand against the war; he believed that you shouldn’t start a war without knowing what the real issues are. When Tim is originally notified of his draft, he is emotional, scared and angry. A million thoughts were going through his head all at once. "I was too good for this war. Too smart, too compassionate, too everything." (page72) This explains why Tim felt so emotionally distraught, and why he experienced a breakdown on the boat with Elroy. Tim tells us that he was extremely ashamed of how he cried in front of Elroy and that he broke down and cried in the first place. But, that was only a part of the reason; Tim was far more ashamed of his inability to make a decision and stick to
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