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Theme of on The Rainy River

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Words: 591 |

Page: 1|

3 min read

Published: Mar 20, 2024

Words: 591|Page: 1|3 min read

Published: Mar 20, 2024

Table of contents

  1. Shame and Guilt
  2. Identity and Conformity
  3. The Burden of War
  4. Conclusion

Tim O'Brien's short story "On the Rainy River" is a powerful exploration of the themes of shame, guilt, and the struggle to define one's own identity. The story is part of O'Brien's collection of stories in his book "The Things They Carried," which is a reflection on his experiences as a soldier in the Vietnam War. "On the Rainy River" is a key story in the collection as it delves into the emotional and psychological impact of the war on soldiers, and the internal conflict that arises from the pressure to conform to societal expectations. This essay will analyze the theme of "On the Rainy River" and explore how it contributes to the overall message of the collection.

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Shame and Guilt

One of the central themes of "On the Rainy River" is the overwhelming sense of shame and guilt experienced by the protagonist, Tim O'Brien. The story is set during the summer of 1968, when O'Brien receives his draft notice for the Vietnam War. He is faced with the internal conflict of whether to comply with the draft or to escape to Canada. O'Brien feels a deep sense of shame at the thought of running away from his duty as an American citizen, but also guilt at the prospect of fighting in a war that he does not believe in. This internal struggle is a central theme of the story and is a reflection of the emotional turmoil experienced by many soldiers during the Vietnam War.

Identity and Conformity

Another important theme of "On the Rainy River" is the struggle to define one's own identity amidst societal pressures. O'Brien grapples with the expectations of his family, friends, and society as a whole. He feels the weight of their judgment and struggles with the fear of being seen as a coward if he chooses to dodge the draft. This theme of identity and conformity is further emphasized by O'Brien's internal struggle as he tries to reconcile his beliefs with the expectations of others. The story raises important questions about the nature of courage and the pressures of conformity, and the impact these have on an individual's sense of self.

The Burden of War

Additionally, "On the Rainy River" also addresses the psychological burden of war on soldiers. O'Brien's inner conflict reflects the emotional toll that war takes on individuals, and the moral dilemmas they face when forced to participate in a conflict that goes against their beliefs. The story highlights the mental anguish that soldiers experience when faced with the prospect of fighting in a war that they do not believe in. This theme of the burden of war contributes to the overarching message of "The Things They Carried," which is a poignant portrayal of the physical and emotional weight carried by soldiers during and after the war.

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Conclusion

In conclusion, "On the Rainy River" is a powerful exploration of the themes of shame, guilt, and the struggle to define one's own identity. The story delves into the emotional and psychological impact of the Vietnam War on soldiers, and the internal conflict that arises from the pressure to conform to societal expectations. Through its exploration of these themes, "On the Rainy River" contributes to the overall message of "The Things They Carried," which is a poignant reflection on the emotional and psychological toll of war on individuals. Tim O'Brien's storytelling skillfully captures the complexities of the human experience, and "On the Rainy River" stands as a powerful testament to the enduring impact of war on the human psyche.

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This essay was reviewed by
Dr. Oliver Johnson

Cite this Essay

Theme of on the Rainy River. (2024, March 20). GradesFixer. Retrieved July 15, 2024, from https://gradesfixer.com/free-essay-examples/theme-of-on-the-rainy-river/
“Theme of on the Rainy River.” GradesFixer, 20 Mar. 2024, gradesfixer.com/free-essay-examples/theme-of-on-the-rainy-river/
Theme of on the Rainy River. [online]. Available at: <https://gradesfixer.com/free-essay-examples/theme-of-on-the-rainy-river/> [Accessed 15 Jul. 2024].
Theme of on the Rainy River [Internet]. GradesFixer. 2024 Mar 20 [cited 2024 Jul 15]. Available from: https://gradesfixer.com/free-essay-examples/theme-of-on-the-rainy-river/
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