Wednesday, February 2, 2011
The Boy Who Lost Everything
"He was alone. He'd lost everything. He'd lost Kiowa and his weapon and his flashlight and his girlfriend's picture. He remembered this. He remembered wondering if he could lose himself." Those were the words that struck me with thought , the words that made him nameless. In this chapter, I felt that O'Brien was using the boy as analogy for the ignorance, innocence, and fragility that some of the now more experienced soldiers used to have. What they have now is the future, what they carry, and a reluctance. They seem to not hang on to the past as much as the book continues, although they do think about brutal events excessively from time to time. Even though that happens, they still continue forward. Lieutenant Cross seems to do this in the chapter, by just sitting there thinking about what he is going to do with the letter to Kiowa's father. While the nameless boy sits there looking for his girlfriend's picture. The metaphor here I believe, is that the novice soldiers are still hanging on to the past, whereas the adept are reluctantly looking forward. And, the reason the boy is nameless, mainly, is because he is still innocent. He is still one of the "identical copies of a single soldier". Even though he witnessed Kiowa's death, and lost his false sense of love from his ex's picture, he still wants to cling on to the past. When one of the soldiers that we can actually identify react to a situation, it is unique, and it always has been. Whether it was from killing the baby buffalo, or when Cross burned the letters from Martha, they all adaptively and uniquely coped with their situations. However, the nameless boy predictably looked for something he lost, especially predictable since it was his ex's picture. This predictability I believe shows innocence, and his frantic approach to find it showed fragility, and ignorance is just the sheer comparison of lieutenant to grunt. Despite his ignorance, though, I think the nameless boy was trying to convince himself that he needed to move forward, by doing the senseless act of searching for the picture. Because he needed to prove to himself that he lost it, that it was gone. He needed something to tell him he could go on, that he had no more burdens to bear. And I feel that correlates with the point that O'Brien made in his interview, to "convince the reader of the stuff that is happening in the now"; which is much like the nameless boy convincing himself of his current situation. O'Brien convinces us of the now to convince us of his truths, which inevitably entangle us in this complex web of truths, lies, and facts. Yet, he convinces us that this is true, whether it is lie or fact, and the nameless boy is convincing himself of the truth that he lost his picture, whether he accepts it or not. He is still innocent of the truths of war, the sins, the rights and wrongs, the fact that there are apparently none, and his name. I conclusively feel that O'Brien didn't name the boy, because he wasn't a part of the war, a part of the overall truth or truths we are being convinced of. He is still one of those identical soldiers, who is is still reluctantly holding on to the past.