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The Trial of William Calley
Transcript of The Trial of William Calley
William Calley Lieutenant Calley was hesitating
when asked by the court justice
to explain a form of "evacuation" that
he had done at My Lai. The Lieutenant's justification on
who exactly was killed
was that "enemies" were
killed, not human beings. O'Brien mentions that the Lieutenant kills people many times throughout the novel. "The Lieutenant shouted something and shot down a dozen women and kids and then reloaded and shot down more and then reloaded again" (O'Brien 107). "A: It was a figure of speech,
Q: What did you mean when
you said it?
A: I meant just - I meant only that
the only means I could evacuate
the people would be a hand grenade"
(O'Brien 135). "Q: What do you mean, you weren't
A: I didn't discriminate between
individuals in the village, sir. They were
all the enemy, they were all to be
(O'Brien 141). Lt. Calley did not provide
any adequate specific
to the massacre, insisting
he simply could not recall (Eckhardt). How was O'Brien successful in characterizing
William Calley with historical accuracy? How historically accurate is
"In the Lake of The Woods"? In following passage, O'Brien continues with the theme that Calley was the driving force behind the massacre through John's descriptions. "Meadlo and the Lieutenant were spraying gunfire into a crowd of villagers . . . 'Jeez come on,' the Lieutenant said, 'Get with it light up these f**kers'" (O'Brien 107). How the trial is depicted in "In the Lake of the Woods"? In the actual trial of William Calley ... Lieutenant William Calley was charged with the premeditated murder of no less than 70 occupants of My Lai village by means of shooting them with a rifle (Eckhardt). The judge came to the conclusion that "Calley executed all, without regard to age, condition, or possibility of suspicion" ("The My Lai Cases"). There was much public support for Calley. Following his conviction, many wrote letters insisting he was innocent (Eckhardt). How does the trial in "In the Lake of the Woods" compare to the actual trial? Tim O'Brien uses several actual accounts from the trial of William Calley Dennis Conti, "Calley and Meadlo got on line and fired directly into the people" (143).
Robert Maples (145)
Paul Meadlo states that they gathered between 30 to 50 people to kill (192).
Ronald Haeberle states that no one ever told an officer what they saw (137). Whenever Conti, Maples, Meadlo, Haeberle, and Calley are quoted in "In the Lake Of the Woods," they are excerpts from the actual testimonies that took place at the trial of William Calley. Countless times in the book it states that women and children were lying dead on the ground which is backed up by the fact that the Judge found Calley guilty of killing everyone he saw, regardless of whether or not they possessed weapons (Eckhardt). Both in the book and in the trial the soldiers agreed that Calley was directing and personally participating in the killings. Through his use of direct excerpts from the trial and his descriptions of the battle, O'Brien accurately depicts the events that occurred before and during William Calley's trial.
O'Brien chose to use many of the same names in order to keep it as accurate as possible. However, O'Brien created two characters, failed to provide an outside perspective and ignored the positive views of the public at the time, causing a biased point of view. Despite this, everything else lines up to be nearly identical. For the reader to fully understand the horrible events that occurred at My Lai, O'Brien chose to show the trial so similiar to what happened in real life. This would also help the reader in having a better understanding of what John Wade went through. Tim O'Brien's "In the Lake Of The Woods" is very historically accurate regarding the trial of William Calley; however, it imparts a bias. Works Cited
Eckhardt, William. "Calley Court-Martial Appeal." Calley
Court-Martial Appeal. N.p., 2000. Web. 07 Mar. 2013.
"The My Lai Cases." The My Lai Cases. N.p., n.d. Web. 07
O'Brien, Tim. "In the Lake of the Woods." New York:
Penguin Books, 1995. Print.
"William Calley." N.d. Photograph. "Commercial Appeal."
Web. 07 Mar. 2013
"William Calley." N.d. Photograph. "Wikipedia." Web. 07
"In the Lake of the Woods." N.d. Photograph.
"Wikipedia." Web. 07 Mar. 2013. O'Brien's Point of View Although O'Brien didn't directly address the trial too many times, he painted Calley as a very violent, brutish and inhumane character. Imparting an antagonist bias, O'Brien fails to include a perspective. O'Brien may have done this to express his own view on Calley. O'Brien only addresses the trial through first-person narration. This point of view lines up with the point of view of the outside sources, which also portrayed Calley as sadistic. However, these third party sources both villianize and support Calley..
Point of View of Outside Sources
"The My Lai Cases" is an unbiased, factual database. Its sole purpose is to inform the reader. It provides internal, external, negative and positive perspectives to provide an unbiased portrayl of Calley.
Eckhardt's "Calley Court-Martial Appeal" is written from a third-party standpoint. This article's main goal is to tell the facts from Calley's trial. This source also illustrates the brutal actions of Calley; however, it also touches on the positive views on Calley. O'Brien fabricated two characters in the trial in his novel:
Richard Thinbill and Salvatore Lamartina Why? Lamartina said that the soldiers at My Lai "killed anything that breathed" (O'Brien 143).
Thinbill added that they were "killing the enemy" (O'Brien 137).
O'Brien may have done this to further add to the assumption that John Wade had a large mental capacity for killing. It also antagonized the Charlie Company's actions.