Vietnam Reading Assignment

By: Abby Hammond


In the chapter "The Man I Killed," O'Brien demonstrates how the narrator reacted when he killed a soldier in Vietnam with a grenade. Kiowa was with the narrator when this incident took place, and both of the characters had a difficult time coming to the realization that a soldier was killed. Kiowa imagined what achievements and goals the soldier could have achieved if he wasn't in the war, and the narrator and Kiowa were devastated by this incident.

Furthermore, in the poem "Facing It," Yusef Komunyakaa has a flashback to the Vietnam war when he visited the wall with all of the names of the soldiers who were killed in the war. He saw his friend, Andrew Johnson, and another white vet who was killed in the war, and he felt that his name should be on the wall as well.

Important Passages

"He wanted someday to be a teacher of mathematics. At night, lying on his mat, he could not picture himself doing brave things his father had done...He hoped in his heart that he would never be tested. He hoped the Americans would go away. Soon, he hoped" (O'Brien 125). This passage is significant because it demonstrates the types of lives many soldiers wish to have instead of fighting in the war. For example, this soldier desired to become a math teacher, but this dream was diminished because he lost his life in the war. Although many soldiers are enlisted to fight in the war, few aren't brave enough to risk their lives for their country.

"I go down the 58,022 names, half-expecting to find my own letters like smoke. I touch the name Andrew Johnson; I see the booby trap's white flash" (Komunyakaa 2424). This passage is significant because it reflects the sorrow and guilt that many soldiers face after the war. Many soldiers wish that they could have died instead of their friends, and this reflects the lives many veterans have after the war. This veteran is struggling with PTSD, and he desires to have his friends beside him.

Discussion Questions

The message that the authors are trying to convey is that war is a very negative and destructive thing that can ruin the dreams of many people. Before the war started, all of the characters had important goals and purposes for their lives, but the war lead them down a different path. Furthermore, the authors also convey to readers that a person should be thankful for what they have because many other people may not be as fortunate as them. For example, one person may have the ability to go to college and pursue their dream, but a soldier may have to risk their life for other people when they don't have the courge. Finally, war has a strong impact on many people by influencing them to be thankful for what they have, but war may also cause depression, anxiety, and PTSD.
"Bring the Boys Home" by Freda Payne with lyrics

Connection to Media

This song connects to the chapter "The Man I Killed" because it reflects how the soldiers and many families want the war to end and come back home. The soldiers aren't happy that they have to kill so many innocent people and watch their friends die, and they just want everyone to be at peace with each other.