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"The Man I Killed"

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by

Bonnie Miller

on 8 November 2012

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Transcript of "The Man I Killed"

"The Man I Killed" Stylistic placement:
-Placement of the chapter is ironic in its following the chapter "Church".
-It was originally in The Gentelman’s Quarterly to serve as an eye-opener, and wake-up call for Americans.
-Purposely placed before "Ambush".
-allows for better understand as to why he would not tell his daughter the truth
The title, The Man I Killed, shows that O’Brien is finally admitting what he did. Theme
-A prominent theme of the chapter is that many young men, with hopes, dreams and a bright future were sent off the war and killed. This also goes along with the theme “death of innocence”.
-Another theme is the haunting of war and what Vietnam soldiers went through and had to deal with for the rest of their lives. What's new about our characters?
-Kiowa’s sensitivity is emphasized.
-Azar, a newly introduced character, is extremely insensitive.
-O’Brien’s vulnerability is emphasized as is his sensitivity to death. This chapter shows his guilty conscience. O’Brien uses dialogue to convey character. Style The metaphor of the hole shaped like a star where the man’s eye once was is representative of the man having, and dying with, stars in his eyes. This is repeated countless times throughout the chapter to emphasize the loss of life and ambition, and the guilt soldiers have. The repetition of the small details regarding the dead body and the verisimilitude reiterates the guilt and the image of the body being burned into his mind (this goes for any soldier). The metafiction shows that this can happen to any soldier during any war. The star shaped hole where the man’s right eye is symbolic of the possibilities of the man’s future. Figurative Language The descriptive imagery of the dead body leaves an imprint on minds of readers, and helps them to better understand what happens to soldiers when they kill the enemy. It also leaves little to no room for imagination, and creates the sense of once you kill someone you never forget any detail of what happened. O’Brien alludes to the story of the young girl named Heidi when, regarding O’Brien killing the man, Kiowa says “the guy wasn’t Heidi”. This means that the man wasn’t a child. He wasn’t innocent. The bleeding out symbolizes the man’s avidity leaving the world and it represents O’Brien’s innocence leaving him; just as the blood was drained from the dead man’s body, the innocence is drained from O’Brien. Tone
The tone of the story is regretful and haunting.
O’Brien makes it clear that he regrets that he had to kill the man and feels mournful for doing it. The point of view being first person intrusive emphasizes the guilt O’Brien has. If it were third or second person, readers would not know how he truly felt when this happened. “His jaw was in his throat, his upper lip and teeth were gone, his one eye was shut, his other eye was a star-shaped hole, his eyebrows were thin and arched like a woman’s, his nose was undamaged, there was a slight tear at the lobe of one ear, his black hair was swept upward into a cowlick at the rear of the skull, his forehead was lightly freckled, his fingernails were clean, the skin at his left cheek was peeled back in three ragged strips, his right cheek was smooth and hairless, there was a butterfly on his chin, his neck was open to the spinal cord and the blood there was thick and shiny and it was this wound that had killed him” (page 119).

“’it’s a war. The guy wasn’t Heidi—he had a weapon, right? It’s a tough thing, for sure, but you got to cut out that staring’” (page 120). THE UNKNOWN SOLDIER
by Lachlan Irvine

Here lies a man, a hero to me now
Yet in my eyes still no more than a boy;
No wrinkle on his ever youthful brow
His dreams still filled with life and hope and joy.

Thrust into conflict by the men of hate
Those nameless, faceless architects of war
Whose orders led him to his final fate
The flame of youth extinguished evermore.

But hate can never motivate a man
To sacrifice his own life for a friend;
True heroes ever since mankind began
Have upheld higher virtues to the end.

So when the roll is called somewhere above
Let it be said that this man died for love. The speaker is a someone visiting the grave of a soldier. They look up to the dead soldier, and think he should be honored.

The theme is coming to terms with the tragic loss of young men with and the end of their hopes and dreams.

The tone of the poem is solemn, remembering, and adoration.

The meaning of the poem is that when men die in the war, they become heroes, but that’s not enough to make up for the fact that lives were lost. -Diction: Only vernacular.

-Structure: The structure of the poem tells a story. The first stanza talks about the man’s youth and innocence. The second talks about the man being forced into war and what he went through during it. The third talks about his untimely end, and the fourth is the man’s afterlife- hinting that he is in heaven.

-Symbol: “faceless architects of war” are the causes of the war

-Metaphor: “No wrinkle on his ever youthful brow” is a metaphor for the man’s youth and innocence.
“His dreams still filled with life and hope and joy” is a metaphor for the man’s potential.
“The flame of youth extinguished evermore” is a metaphor for the man’s death.

-Space: The caesuras are strategically placed to help tell the man’s story (details above).

-Title: The title is relatable to the chapter “The Man I Killed” because in both pieces the dead soldiers were unknown and unidentified, yet the authors created a story for them.

-Imagery: Both the chapter and the poem have detail (the chapter way more than the poem) about the dead man. QUIZ TIME:
1. What thought is reflected in the allusion “when the roll is called somewhere above”?

2. What figurative device is NOT present in the poem?
a. Metaphor
b. Simile
c. Symbol
d. Allusion

3. In lines 5-8, how is the speaker portrayed?

4. What is the tone of the poem’s final stanza?
a. Thankful and reflective
b. Hateful and sardonic
c. Respect and adoration
d. Love and honor

5. In lines 3-4, what is the effect of using metaphor? TRIVIA TIME The Man’s Body Describe the man’s eyebrows. What was “smooth and fine-grained and hairless”? Where was the gold ring? What color were the flowers along the trail? Where was his jaw? What was the man wearing? What was he no longer wearing? Where was the star? What colors were the star? His Story The man was studying at what school? What was he studying in school? What village did the man grow up in? What was his village near? “He had no ______ for violence.” What year was he born? What was he teased about? What did he write in his journals? What were the two things he hoped? How old was the girl he loved? Speaking of the Body How is Azar portrayed? What three breakfast foods did O'Brien "lay him out" like? What is the author’s purpose in repeatedly describing the body? What is the contradiction on page 124? Written in 1880.
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