, Research Paper
In the short story, ?Sweetheart of the Song Tra Bong,? by Tim O?Brien, the author shows that no matter what the circumstances were, the people that were exposed to the Vietnam War were affected greatly. A very young girl named Mary Anne Bell was brought by a boyfriend to the war in Vietnam. When she arrived she was a bubbly young girl, and after a few weeks, she was transformed into a hard, mean killer.
Mark Fossie decided he was going to sneak his girlfriend onto his base in Vietnam. When she arrived, Rat Kiley described her like this, ?A tall big-boned blonde. At best, Rat said, she was seventeen years old, fresh out of Cleveland Heights Senior High. She had long white legs and blue eyes and a complexion like strawberry ice cream. Very Friendly, too.? The first couple of weeks, they were always together. They would hold hands and laugh. It was obvious they were in love. She started changing shortly after she began asking questions about everything. She wanted to go into town one day but it was very dangerous because the VC owned the placed. But she kept asking Mark and finally he agreed. She walked right through the whole town without one single hint of fear. As if she wasn?t aware that she was in great danger. Then she began helping with the wounded victims. She wasn?t afraid to get blood on her hands at all. Even the really gross wounds didn?t seem to bother her. Rat Kiley explains, ?In times of action her face took on a sudden new composure, almost serene, the fuzzy blue eyes narrowing into a tight, intelligent focus. Mark Fossie would grin at this. He was proud, yes, but also amazed. A different person, it seemed, and he wasn?t sure what to make of it.? She stopped wearing makeup and jewelry. She cut her hair short and wrapped it in a dark bandana. She was beginning to look like a man. She learned how to shoot a gun. Mary Anne began talking her and Mark?s future. Instead of getting married like they had planned, she wants to just live together for a while to see what it?s like. Everything about her was changing. She was no longer bubbly, she rarely laughed, and she was going off on her own more and more. One night she never came home. She had spent all night with the green berets on ambush. When Mary returned, she was hardly recognizable. Mark was fed up, he made her wash her hair and clean up. Things seemed to be all right. But there was a great deal of tension between them. Finally, Mark started talking about sending her back home. Mary Anne was gone the next morning along with the 6 other green berets. When she returned, her appearance had completely changed. ?It was then, Rat said, that he picked out Mary Anne?s face. Her eyes seemed to shine in the dark-not blue, though, but a bright glowing jungle green. She did not pause at Fossie?s bunker. She cradled her weapon and moved swiftly to the Special Forces hooch and followed the others inside.? When Mark entered the green berets hooch, he first thought he saw the same old sweet Mary Anne. She was wearing a pink sweater and a skirt. But there was no emotion in her eyes. And the worst part was that she was wearing a necklace made of human tongues. It?s ironic that she had become a totally cold and mean person but she was still wearing the same pink girly sweater. She then became almost a legend. She wandered off into the mountains one day and never returned. The Greenies swore that she was always out there staring at them. Rat explains, ?She had crossed to the other side. She was part of the land. She was wearing her culottes, her pink sweater, and a necklace of human tongues. She was dangerous. She was ready for the kill.?
That is a very drastic change for a young girl who was sweet, bubbly, and just out of high school. That is what Tim O?Brien is trying to explain in the short story, ?Sweetheart of the Song Tra Bong.? No matter who you were, if you were there, it completely affected you. Most people have never been in life threatening situations. Especially for weeks at a time. Being suddenly thrown into a situation like that can change a person drastically. Especially in Mary Anne Bell?s case.