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The Things They Carried Sweet Heart of the Song Tra Bong

In: Novels

Submitted By Chrisdefinate
Words 1457
Pages 6
Type 3 Christian De Los Santos
1. TAG/TS/CS 25 pts
2. 3 examples or quote/ details 30 pts
3. The correct answer 45 pts

Many works of literature incorporate dynamic characters, a character that changes. In the chapter Sweetheart of Song Tra Bong in the fictional novel The Things They Carried by Tim O’Brien, Mary Anne Bell is a prime example of a dynamic character. Mary Anne was an attractive girl, seventeen years old, from Cleveland Heights Senior High. She had a bubbly and girly personality. Her boyfriend, Mark Fossie, got the idea to fly his girlfriend out to his assigned medical outpost in Vietnam. The outpost was near the village of Tra Bong, up in the mountains west of Chu Lai. It was a fun place to be during the war because you only had to tend to the victims and after that you can do as you wish. The outpost has also a base of operations for a squad of six Green Berets aka Greenies. This would all seem like a safe place to protect an innocent girl from war but one way or another you get a taste of it just as Mary Anne did. War has a way of changing people.

Mary Anne underwent several drastic changes, one of which was her appearance. When Mary Anne first arrived at the outpost she was dressed in white culottes and a pink sweater, clothing that was very contrasting to her surroundings. She had long blonde hair, and kept herself well groomed and clean. The first few weeks after her arrival everything was good. Mary Anne enjoyed herself and her feminine presence was well appreciated by the others. Then the change began, Mary Anne began helping with the incoming injured soldiers and learning the way of life at the outpost. She began picking up the habits of the bush, “No cosmetics, no fingernail filing. She stopped wearing jewelry, cut her hair short and wrapped it in a dark green bandanna. Hygiene became a matter of small consequence”. This wasn’t the end of it though. One night Fossie couldn’t find Mary Anne, she didn’t come to the bunker. When he finally found her she was coming back from an ambush with the Greenies. She was wearing a bush hat and some dirty green fatigues. She carried an m16 and her face was black with charcoal. It seems as the transformation of war was complete but Mary Anne wasn’t done yet. Fossie tried to get Mary Anne back to normal and for a time she was, she wore her old close and her hair was shampooed. Then the breaking point of the relationship arrived between Fossie and Mary Anne. She went for an ambush with the Greenies when she promised not to and when she came back a few days later she just stayed in the bunker with the Greenies. Fossie couldn’t take the pain of her not coming to see him so he went into the Greenies bunker and saw that Mary Anne wasn’t Mary Anne anymore. Around her neck she wore a necklace of tongues. Mary Anne still wore her clothes from before but her eyes were different. Before her eyes were bright and welcoming, but now they were flat and indifferent. This is only one of Mary Anne’s changes from going to Nam.

War seems to affect everyone on a mental level whether it is trauma or depression. In Mary Anne’s case war seemed to quench a thirst for a thrill. When she first arrived at the outpost Mary Anne seemed normal and curious to learn as much as she could about war. Mary Anne and Mark were in love and planed to marry one day, “they were very much in love, full of dreams, and in the ordinary flow of their lives the whole scenario might well have come true”. It seemed like nothing would separate the two lovebirds from fulfilling their dreams. Even when Mary Anne begins to look different than before it doesn’t bother Fossie. Mary Anne was sharp and picked up on the things she was being taught quickly. It seemed that the more she learned, the prouder Fossie was of her. Then it starts to get to Fossie. He suggests that she should go home soon but Mary Anne refused, “Everything I want is right here”. This did not sit well for Mark. Mary Anne started to drift away a bit. Mary Anne had different views about everything like her getting married with Mark. She instead wanted to sort of test the waters out, not get married right away but just live together and see how it goes from there. She became stiff and firm where she used to be soft. She was no long bubbly and her laughter was rare. She wasn’t the same person she once was. Then Mary Anne joined up with the Greenies on ambushes. She then learned what it felt like to kill and after that point there was no getting the old Mary Anne back. Fossie tried to reach her and made a compromise to send her home and start acting like normal but it was too late. On one night Mary Anne left on an Ambush with the Greenies and didn’t return for three weeks. When she did she didn’t care for Fossie anymore, leaving him outside the Greenies compound grieving for his lost love. It seemed that her mind was set on killing and Mary Anne ended up going crazy, running off into the jungles of Nam and never being found. She was a young girl, innocent and in love, her mind sensitive to what it took in. Her mental state seemed to deteriorate from what it once was and build itself up with what the war provided. She turned into a killer, a prisoner of war in her own mind, being consumed in the atmosphere. War changes people for better or worse.

It seemed that the medical outpost would protect the love of Mark Fossie and Mary Anne Bell. Mary Anne arrived at the outpost happy and in love. She had a flirtatious and bubbly exterior, which was accepted. This fragile and innocent seventeen year old girl was exposed to the elements of war whether it was the victims that she helped tend to or learning about the weapons that caused such devastation. Slowly but surely her heart started to become harder and colder in order to adjust to what she was experiencing. Eventually it seemed to be too much. Mark noticed it and wanted to reverse the process and get Mary Anne home, but the elements seemed to an addiction for Mary Anne’s heart. Eventually the thought of a kill got to her and she went with the Greenies. Killing was like a stronger intoxication of war. Fossie tried to intervene and made a compromise for Mary Anne to quit. She was no longer in love, her heart was too deep in the war, and to tell a girl to quit her new love all of a sudden didn’t seem to work. Mark didn’t make her happy anymore, killing did. She showed passion for what she enjoyed. Eventually it consumed her. Mary Anne’s heart no longer had room for Mark so she took him out of her life. The art of the kill in its simplest form began to lose its luster so Mary Anne began to imagine new ways to do what she loved. Like any other drug, too big of a dosage of war is dangerous. Mary Anne became infatuated with killing to the point where she went insane and ran off never to be found. War plays with your emotions especially when they involve such strong ones as love. Love and happiness were no long brought on by the man she was to marry. Mary Anne was no longer affectionate and less of a human and more of a monster. It’s dumbfounding how drastically war can change one’s heart. Mary Anne Bell, the sweetheart of Song Tra Bong. She was once a sweetheart but once Tra Bong came into play she changed forever. Dynamic characters change, Mary Anne Bell transformed. The once beautiful butterfly became a monstrosity. She no longer looked the same, thought the same, or felt the same. War can do some crazy things and Mary Anne bell is a prime example. Mary Anne Bell goes to Nam as a young and pretty seventeen year old, innocent and fragile, then becomes a blood thirsty G.I. Jane. You want to know what a dynamic character is, here is Mary Anne Bell.

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