Vietnam: At the frontier.

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Realistic novels and memoirs of the Vietnam War tell a common tale in which the youthful protagonist leaves behind the society of his immediate father to connect with the cultural father by entering the frontier of Vietnam. There he suffers the traumatic shock of finding that he has entered a crazily inverted landscape of American myth frustrating all his expectations. The youthful protagonist leaving his family to enter the frontier in Vietnam is depicted clearly in many Vietnam novels and films. One of the clearest examples here is Ron Kovic’s novel Born on the Fourth of July. In the film young Ron watches an Independence Day rally in his hometown in awe. All the veterans of previous wars America has been involved in, including the last war in Korea, march down the street. Ron grows up learning to be competitive and an “upright” American. His mother cheers for him to do well in wrestling and she scolds him severely for looking at pornography. We are given the picture of a sound, yet strict upbringing. His father tries to dissuade him from going to war in Vietnam. In the end he goes, full of patriotism; a true son of America. Once in Vietnam he is exposed to the brutality and chaos of war, but his greatest fight is when he returns home wounded. He struggles to adapt to a society which is against the war and is rejecting its war heroes. He suffers the trauma of rejection and adaptation in a “hostile” environment. In the end he joins the anti-war lobbyists. This aspect of being rejected by one's own society is seen in the poem Private Jack Smith, U.S.M.C.[1]



Vietnam War in literature, War in literature