Speaking of Courage Analysis Essay
Speaking of Courage Analysis
“Speaking of Courage” is a post-war insight into the life of a young Vietnam Veteran. The main character Norman Bowker returns to his hometown after the war had ended. With himself he brings home countless amounts of experiences, memories, and thoughts that place him in a setting abstract from what he remembered as "home." Speaking of Courage is an insightful story told in a way that brings the character's emotions to life. The way that he tells the story in his head, imagining how the people that were in his life before the experience would react if they only knew shows the lasting impact that the war has left on mind.it was as if the reader could almost feel inside Norman's mindset. It was as though he was trying to bring his past back to life just to get it out of his system. Obviously Norman was emotionally twisted with thoughts he couldn't even fully grasp. The effect of the war became so vivid through O’Brien’s use of imagery, characterization, and symbolism.
O’Brien uses the images of the sewage field and the lake to illustrate the characters’ inability to escape the effects of the Vietnam War. The sewage field is a vivid metaphor for an unpleasant, meaningless battle that none of the soldiers can escape. The sewage field’s stench heightens the sensation that there is nothing valorous or heroic about this war; rather, it is debased and unclean. Bowker thinks that if it wasn’t for the horrible smell he might have saved Kiowa and won the Silver Star. But just as Kiowa was unable to be saved from sinking into the field, Bowker cannot save himself from his repeated, almost obsessive thoughts about Kiowa and the Song Tra Bong. Likewise, his wading into the lake is a physical manifestation of his desire to return to that day in Vietnam and to change the course of events that ended in Kiowa’s death in the muck. Although there may be an expectation that...