Essay, Research Paper
“ The Sweetheart of the Song Tra Bong”
The great storyteller, Rat Kiley, knew that his story wasńt going to go over well without a lot of explanation. So, he explained. Rat was a serving as a medic in the Song Tra Bong and witnessed a soldier, Mark Fossie, bring his girlfriend over to his barrack in Vietnam. “ The way Rat told it, she came in by helicopter along with the daily resupply shipment out of Chu Lai.”(105) Soon after, she, Maryanne , arrived she became part of the routine. “She fell quickly into the habits of the bush. No cosmetics, no fingernail filing. She stopped wearing jewelry, cuter her hair and wrapped it in a dark green bandana.”(109) Fossie enjoyed having Maryanne around, and even allowed her to flirt with the other soldiers. Later, however, she began to disappear, and before long became engulfed in the ways of war.
Maryanne Bell came as a fresh-faced teenager in culottes and a sweater, and never left. “ What happened to her was what happened to all of them. You come over and you get dirty and then afterward it́s never the same. A question of degree. Some make it intact, some dońt make it at all.”(123) Her joining with the Green Beret́s was a result, I think, of the “powerful drug” of war. (123) She didńt have all of her faculties intact. She acted as if she were drunken by the atmosphere and was forced into a stupor from which she couldńt escape even if she wanted. Likewise, what began as an attempt to show off, became, probably, one of the worst decisions of Mark Fossiés life. His changes throughout the story had little to do with how the war was affecting him as much as how it was affecting Maryanne. Seeing such a drastically different girl than what he knew not only hurt Fossie, I think, but probably made him think about what the war was doing to him. Whether he, too, would change as much. The theme of this chapter seems to be that war isn’t kind even to the kindest people.