22 February 2012
Mary Anne Bell of “Sweetheart of the Song Tra Bong” by Tim O’Brian
It is a well known fact that experiencing war changes people; there is an innocence that is forever lost. In Tim O’Brian’s, “Sweetheart of the Song Tra Bong”, Mary Anne Bell is an unusual example of the innocence that is lost in war because unlike the rest of the soldiers, she is a woman. Mary Anne’s transformation from innocent “sweetheart” to fierce warrior left readers with mixed emotions because although Mary Anne felt at peace with her transformation, she was also disconnected from reality.
When Mary Anne’s boyfriend, Mark Fossie, had her smuggled into Vietnam to visit him, she arrived looking like a piece of home. Mary Anne was a beautiful and innocent, 17 year-old American girl, a cute blonde wearing “white culottes and a sexy pink sweater” (O’Brian 91). The first two weeks, she and Mark Fossie were “stuck together like a pair of high school steadies” (95). “Mary Anne and Fossie had been sweethearts since grammar school and since sixth grade on they had known for a fact that someday they would get married, live in a house near Lake Erie, and have three children, That was the plan” (95). Her bubbly personality, happy smile, and good looks were said to be good for the morale of all of the soldiers, not just Fossie. Although Mary Anne is perceived as innocent, she had an overwhelming curiosity in her that was very uncommon for American girls of this time. It was unheard of for women to be serving in the Vietnam War, so the fact that Mary Anne went in the first place shows that she may not be as innocent and delicate as presumed. Mary Anne joining Fossie in Vietnam also makes me believe she is very naive because she has no idea what is in store for her and of the transformation she will make, no one did. From the very beginning Mary Anne is very curious and right away she is asking a lot of questions and is ginually...
Cited: O’Brien, Tim. “Sweetheart of the Song Tra Bong” The Things They Carried. New York, NY . 1998. 89-116
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