The collection of imaginary stories written by Tim O' Brien made it significant to inflict different arguments for some parts of the novel. Primarily, the novel is all about the journey of the American soldiers in Vietnam. For some parts, it is emphasized that there is a distinction between a true story and the stories that are in reality and is happening. The author significantly made the stories true in a sense that it happens in reality; however his novel is just for the sake of literatures.
The major character in the story is the author and narrator himself, Tim O' Brien. The novel depicts his experiences in the War and serves as a good way to express his ideas about the Vietnam War. Other characters include Jimmy Cross, Martha, Mark Fossie, Mary Ann Bell and a lot more. Mary Ann Bell is the girlfriend of Mark Fossie and is known to be a sweet and naive lady when she first came to Vietnam. However, she has been influenced drastically by her environment. People see her to have a monstrous persona neglecting her heroic deeds. Thus, this has come to argument and needs to be defined through analyzing her character in the story.
The author imposes many argumentative points in the story and needs further analyzing in order to comprehend with his objectives. It is unexpected for a lady to turn into a monstrous persona because her image depicts a sweet girlfriend and very innocent to what is happening in her environment. However, everything seems to change when her eyes are opened to the facts of what the soldiers are fighting for.
While Mary Anne Bell is seen to be a monster to everyone, they kind of miss the positive side of what she did. The chapter "Sweetheart of the Song Tra Bong" contests the thought that women are just meant to serve a man. As the girlfriend of Mark Fossie, it is expected on the character of Mary Anne Bell to portray a wife-material lady and be able to respond to what the role heeds. However, it had been posted that Mary Anne is a monster because of being into the war. She has learned to adopt the culture of the Vietnam (O' Brien 107) and seems to be incompatible with what Mark Fossie used to. It is a matter of acceptance between them and hence the other one could not accept it, he regards her as a monster. However, there is a point that Fossie is trying to understand Mary Anne through influencing her back of what their real culture is but still the foreign one prevails.
Indeed, Mary Ann Bell has changed from a sweet to an independent lady and that is why she is seen as a monster. Her new personality is way different from what people perceive a woman during that time. People foresee the evolution of the roles of women in the society and what she can contribute for the benefit of all. With that in mind, a woman like Mary Anne can also be regarded as a hero in spite of a monstrous image that everyone sees from her.
A hero is literally someone who shows courage in times of problems. It is said that a hero is a person who is willing and able to give a hand to other people in different ways and is often identified by saving the life of anybody who is in need. A hero though does not have to show courage and sacrifice a life. The best heroes are not perfect and in the case of Mary Anne Bell, her support and the way she respects others culture is such a heroic deed. She is a hero in her own way and tries to put on a new mark with the way the women are treated. The time Mary Anne started to wear the necklace just implied how she dedicates herself for using the Vietnamese culture and the culture use her. In that way she already becomes a hero to the country; and when she defends herself to her boyfriend Fossie. She differentiates how she looks at Vietnam from the views of the colleague of her boyfriend.
Mary Anne Bell indeed is a hero for many readers is condemned to be a monster as she turned down her old culture. It is just a matter of choice to anyone of what you believe in. For Mary Anne, she wants a respect from the country and its people and so she returns the favor by embracing the Vietnamese culture. She draws the line between her relationship to her boyfriend and her beliefs which only shows bravery, thus making her a hero. At the end of the day, no matter where you are or where you came from, your acts and how you behave will define who you truly are.
- Beidler, Philip D. American Literature and the Experience of Vietnam. Athens, Georgia: University of Georgia Press, 1982
- Herzog, Tobey C. Tim O'Brien. New York: Simon and Schuster Macmillan, 1997.
- O' Brien, Tim. The Things They Carried. Broadway (December 29, 1998)