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Where Have You Gone, Charming Billy? By Tim O' Brien

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Stephanie Zhu

on 16 February 2013

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Transcript of Where Have You Gone, Charming Billy? By Tim O' Brien

Written by: Tim O' Brien Where Have You Gone, Charming Billy? Literary Terms: Point of View: Irony: Contrast or discrepancy between expectations and reality.

Verbal Irony: when the speaker says one thing but it means the opposite

Situational Irony: when something happens that is the opposite of what is expected
Ex: Billy Boy Watkins died because of the fear of dying. Instead of dying because of his lost foot he died of a heart attack, something not expected in that situation. "You see, Billy Boy really died of a heart attack. He was scared he was gonna die -- so scared, he had himself a heart attack -- and that's what really killed him."

Dramatic Irony: when the reader knows something the character doesn't

Satire: kind of writing that ridicules human weakness, vice or folly in order to bring social reform In the short story "Where Have You Gone, Charming Billy?" the main character, Private First Class Paul Berlin, is terrified and nervous for his first night in the war. The soldiers walk towards safety by the sea while Paul tries to take his mind off his fear and anxiety about the war. He begins to count his footsteps, singing songs in his head and tries to refrain from thinking too much. He remembers when Billy Boy Watkins died of a heart attack, so afraid that he was scared to death. When one of his fellow soldiers brings up the incident Paul could not help from laughing at the irony. But even laughter couldn't help him forget his situation and relieve his fears. Summary: 1. Diffuse: (verb) to spread or scatter widely. "His fear now was diffuse and unformed"
The water began to diffuse over the floor as the cup tipped over.

2. Skirt: (verb) to move along or around the border of something. "Once they skirted a sleeping village."
The students carefully skirted around the puddle of mud from yesterday's rainfall.

3. Inert: (adj) inactive, lazy or sluggish. "Better alert than inert."
The inert and lethargic man began to drift off to sleep.

4. Inertia: (noun) the tendency to continue doing what one has been doing. "...pulled along by inertia, sleepwalking, an afterthought to the war. "
My inertia caused me to continuously run until I was finished with the race.

5. Succumb: (verb) to give way to superior force. "valiantly succumbing to a heart attack…"
The little boy succumbed to the despair of his balloon floating away into the sky. Vocabulary: Hidden behind bravery is fear. Billy is “tough as nails” but is scared to death when a land mine blows off his foot and believes he will die. Paul pretends to act brave for his father but he is terrified of being in the war. He masks his fear of dying with laughter over Billy’s death. Paul, almost at sea, is still terrified, but puts on a brave face.

The theme is explicit. This short story is written in the limited third-person point of view. The narrator isn't one of the characters but he tells the story from the vantage point of one character. In the story, the narrator is telling the story from the vantage point of Private First Class Paul Berlin. During some points of the story the narrator enters Paul Berlin's mind and shows what he is thinking. If the story was told in the first-person point of view the story would have a completely different tone to it. The story would contain more of Paul Berlin's personal thoughts and show his feelings. When the story is retold in the first-person point of view the story becomes more personal and allows the character to tell his own experience. However it doesn't allow the personal thoughts of any other characters. First-person point of view only shows the personal thoughts and experiences of the main character. Main Characters: Main Conflicts: Theme: Most Important Line/Passage: Writing Style: Point of View Cont. Original Passage: Now as he stepped out of the paddy onto a narrow dirt path, now the fear was mostly the fear of being so terribly afraid again. He tried not to think. There were tricks he'd learned to keep from thinking. Counting: He counted his steps, concentrating on the numbers, pretending that the steps were dollar bills and that each step through the night made him richer and richer, so that soon he would become a wealthy man, and he kept counting and considered the ways he might spend the money after the war and what he would do. He would look his father in the eye and shrug and say, "It was pretty bad at first, but I learned a lot and I got used to it." Then he would tell his father the story of Billy Boy Watkins. But he would never let on how frightened he had been. "Not so bad," he would say instead, making his father feel proud.

1st Person POV:"Now as I stepped out of the paddy onto a narrow dirt path, my fear became the fear of being so terribly afraid again. I tried not to think. Thinking only made everything worse. In my mind everything became so vivid, thinking only made me more frightened. I used tricks to keep myself from thinking too much. I counted my steps, concentrating only on the numbers and not my environment. I counted my steps like every step I took on the dirt path made me richer and richer. What I would give to be a wealthy man and I thought of all the ways I could spend the money, all the wonderful things I could buy. I would be able to look my father in the eye and shrug my shoulders like the war was nothing and that it didn't effect me. Of course that was a lie but I could never tell my father the truth. The truth that everyday I was frightened for my life, that I was so afraid every minute of the war. I would never let on how scared I had been. I would just shrug it off and make my father feel proud, knowing his son was brave, but I was truly scared." Original The style we determined for Tim O' Brien's writing is realism and imagery. This passage shows how descriptive his writing can be. He paints a clear picture in your mind about the setting and the actions of the characters. His descriptive language creates a realistic atmosphere for the reader.

"He followed the shadow of the man in front of him. It was a clear night. Already the Southern Cross was out. And other stars he could not yet name-soon, he thought, he would learn their names. And puffy night clouds. There was not yet a moon. Wading through the paddy, his boots made sleepy, sloshy sounds, like a lullaby, and he tried not to think. Though he was afraid, he now knew that fear came in many degrees and types and peculiar categories, and he knew that his fear now was not so bad as it had been in the hot afternoon, when poor Billy Boy Watkins got killed by a heart attack. His fear now was diffuse and unformed: ghosts in the tree line, nighttime fears of a child, a boogieman in the closet that his father would open to show empty, saying "See? Nothing there, champ. Now you can sleep." In the afternoon it had been worse: the fear had been bundled and tight and he'd been on his hands and knees, crawling like an insect, an ant escaping a giant's footsteps and thinking nothing, brain flopping like wet cement in a mixer, not thinking at all, watching while Billy Boy Watkins died. " Private First Class Paul Berlin: a young soldier on his first day in the war.

Direct Characterization-“He pretended he was not a soldier.”“he would forget how frightened he had been on his first day at war.” “But he would never let on how frightened he had been...making his father feel proud.” “He giggled-he could not help it.”

Indirect characterization- “You’re the new guy?” “You gotta stay calm, buddy” “With clumsy, concrete hands” Man vs. Man: The Americans against the Vietnam-
In war, countries fight against one another. In this story, the Americans are fighting the Vietnamese in the Vietnam War. If this was not a conflict, the story would not take place.
Man vs. Self:
In the story story, Paul Berlin, fights his fear of being in war. After seeing Billy die, Paul becomes more afraid of dying and the war. Also, he is fighting against his mild insanity. He laughs at Billy dying of a heart attack. Many people in his unit think of it as a joke, but Paul insanely laughs at it for an abnormal amount of time, leading Toby ask if he is ok.-Man vs. Self/ Man vs. Nature- Billy Watkins dying of a heart attack:
This conflict can fall under two categories. First, Billy causes the heart attack, leading him to die. After his foot is blown of by a land mine, he panics, thinking he will die. Not even morphine or the opportunity to go home calms Billy down. Eventually, Billy’s fear of dying leads him to have a heart attack. However, heart attacks are a natural way of dying, so the heart attack can also be categorized as a man vs. nature conflict. “A funny war story he would tell to his father, how Billy Boy Watkins was scared to death. A good joke. But even when he smelled salt and heard the sea, he could not stop being afraid”(216).

Paul Berlin tries to be brave. He wants to make his father proud of him. Thinking the death of Billy is a joke, Paul believes that he can appear to be brave in the war. However, he is terribly frightened, even though he was told that the sea would be safe. Paul absolutely does not want to die like Billy, he wishes to be brave until the end of the war. Characters Continued: Billy Boy Watkins: Paul's friend in the war. He stepped on a mine and was so scared of the war that he died from a heart attack.

Direct Characterization:“Billy Boy got scared and started crying”
“finally Billy Boy sat down very casually, not saying a word, with his foot still lying behind him”

Indirect Characterization:“Tough as nails.” “old Billy Boy croaking from a lousy heart attack.” Irony And Satire: Irony:
Billy dies of a heart attack in the Vietnam War. Billy who is “tough as nails” got scared to death and not because of the impact of the mine, which blew off his foot. "Can't get over it-old Billy Boy croaking from a lousy heart attack. ...A heart attack-can you believe it?’ The idea of it made Private First Class Paul Berlin smile. He couldn't help it.”

Billy dying of a heart attack induced from fear in a war. The story ridicules how Billy died. Paul uncontrollably laughing at Billy’s death ridicules how people perceive death. Illustration:
Personal Experience: "He could not stop giggling and remembering the hot afternoon, and poor Billy Boy, and how they'd been drinking Coca-Cola from bright-red aluminum cans, and how they'd started on the day's march, and how a little while later poor Billy Boy stepped on the mine, and how it made a tiny little sound-poof-and how Billy Boy stood there with his mouth wide-open, looking down at where his foot had been blown off..." When I was eight, I broke one of my adult teeth. Immediately, pain shot through my entire mouth and I wanted to cry. However, my younger cousin, who looks up to me for being so brave, was present and I did not want to disappoint her. On the inside, I feared I would never be looked at the same again due to my disfigured mouth. I also feared dying from all the pain (I was eight, do not judge me) and that my baby cousin would think I wasn't who she thought I was. So, the rest of the day I fought of all the pain I had and put on a brave face for my cousin. I got my mouth fixed the next day, but I am still scared that I will break another tooth. Although I act like it is nothing, I fear the thought of another accident like that again.
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