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Tim O'Brien's If I Die in a Combat Zone

It would be fine to integrate it all to persuade my younger brother and perhaps some others to say no to wrong wars" (O'Brien 31). Major Callicles becomes the example of the leader bent on justifying everything about the war, including the My Lai massacre that Callicles was charged with investigating. By the end of his time, O'Brien returns home with a certain shame at being in uniform, a uniform he takes off on the plane and stuffs into a suitcase. The real reason for the war is something that seems to elude him and that in some ways he does not ponder too much. For O'Brien and the men in Vietnam, survival is more important than analyzing why they have been sent there in the first place.

The documentary feature Hearts and Minds offers a complex analysis of the Vietnam War, but its basic thesis is clear and easy to identify--the filmmakers see the American involvement in the war as wrong and the policies pursued as both foolish and different from what the American people were being told. At the time when the film was made, this was a more daring statement than it seems today given that the country eventually came around to the same point of view as that taken by the film. Indeed, the film came out in 1974, which was about the same time that the public started shifting in droves to a similar point of view so that the U.S. had little choice but to get out of Vietnam as had been demand


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Tim O'Brien's If I Die in a Combat Zone. (1969, December 31). In Retrieved 22:17, October 22, 2014, from
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