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"Ambush" By Tim O'Brien

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Nadia Jimenez-Jackson

on 1 November 2013

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Transcript of "Ambush" By Tim O'Brien

"Ambush" By Tim O'Brien
The story is set in My Khe, Vietnam.
Nadia Jackson
Mrs. Gross
Period 4W

Plot Diagram
Daughter assumes he has killed a man because of his war short stories.
Rising Action
He is in My Khe, Vietnam
Takes watching shift
Sees young man walk out of morning fog, with gun in arm.
Feels his life is in peril, pulls pin out of grenade.
Throws grenade but not to kill the young man, just to startle.
The young man runs around in confusion trying to contemplate how to save his life from the live grenade. His life was taken away in a flash.
Falling Action
He wanted to warn him (obviously didn't)
He starts to figure out there was no real peril
His partner tried to convince him he would of died anyways.
His partner trying to make the situation better to handle he says that he is a soldier and that this was a war.
Nothing could change his mind, he knew what he did was wrong.
Even years later he still thinks about how he would've changed his actions. At times he can forgive himself but at other times he cant. When he is alone he has daydreams about the young man walking out of the morning fog, towards him and he will walk a few yards past him, while smiling at a secret thought and walks back into the fog.
Major, She gave her dad the flashback.
Flaws: Let's fear take over and doesn't act off of common sense.
Lesson: Regret will hunt your thoughts, for the bad you do in the world.
Flaws: Doesn't seem to care that an innocent man was killed just because he is a soldier
Young Man
"Ambush" is about a man with a deep regret that lies heavily on his heart. His daughter, Kathleen, asks him if he killed anyone during the war. He lies, but hopes to tell his daughter the truth when she's older. This short story takes us back to the day he killed a man unaware his life was in danger.
Actions with consequences
Living with regret
It is the story of a man who has two regrets. First, lying to his daughter about his past wrong doings. That is one consequence of his actions. Second, killing an unaware man. He lied to his daughter about killing anyone during the war because he wants to wait until she is older. He killed the unaware man for no real reason. His life wasn't in peril, there was no real threat. The young man walked past him with a gun in his arms, but knowing the young man had no intention of killing him he let fear take over and threw a grenade at the young man. Regret comes over him and there is no way of getting rid of it.
Literary Elements
Internal Conflict
Man vs. Self
"Dad" sometimes forgives himself for what he has done and at other times he can't. He beats himself up for the young mans death, knowing that he would've lived and at least wouldn't of been killed by his hands.
There was no real peril. He literally killed the young man for no reason. He even says "I did not hate the young man; I did not see him as the enemy; I did not ponder issues of morality or politics or military duty." (Page2)But he also didn't mean to kill him, so that is another reason for regret. "The grenade was to make him go away." (Page2)
Has a flashback about his wrong doing that occurred during the time he was a soldier. He killed a young man out of fear and didn't think about the internal consequences that would happen after his actions.
The Dad is the narrator
First person narration
By this story be a first person narration it is more sentimental and you can actually relate with the person telling the story.
" I did not hate the young man; I did not see him as the enemy; I did not ponder issues of morality or politics or military duty." (Paragraph 4, Line 20&21) the author kept on repeating 'I do not' in this sentence.
I think he did that to show that he didn't have any kind of control over his actions
"He wore black clothing and rubber sandals and a gray ammunition belt. His shoulders were slightly stooped, his head cocked to the side as if listening for something." (Paragraph 4, line 13,14,&15) The author describes what the young man is wearing and how he is approaching "Dad". He use descriptive words to paint an image in your mind. By reading these two sentences I can see him walk exactly how he described it.
Author's Message
I believe that the author would say the message of the story is regret can be a powerful thing. That even after the event occurred (years ago) it can bury its self deep into your heart and mind, make you think what if. "What if I didn't react the way I did, would he still be alive?" or "What if I just let him walk past,would I still feel this regret?"
The story relates to life in a huge way. Sometimes people do things that they regret and want to take back. This story is about regret and how a man wishes he hadn't killed a young man out of fear. He didn't want to lie to his daughter but wants to wait until she is older to tell her what really happened while he was at war. Regret is powerful and this story shows how powerful it can be.
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