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On the Rainy River

Tim O'Brien

Heyley Gtwd

on 10 May 2013

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Transcript of On the Rainy River

Tim O'Brien "On the Rainy River" born in Minnesota, 1946
graduated from Macalester College (like in story)
against the war
after the war, became a grad student at Harvard
american novelist, famous for writing about the Vietnam War and its impact on soldiers
most noted for "The Thing They Carry", a collection of shorts stories inspired by his own experiences in the Vietnam War
his works are a blur between fiction and reality since his books have real situations Summer of 1968
Worthington, Minnesota, Rainy River (between Minnesota and Canada)
First Person- shows the decisions and feelings O' Brien had to face

-Vietnam War (1957 -1975)
-U.S. entered war to prevent the spread of communism in Southern Asia
-3 million Americans sent overseas to defend the Vietnamese govt.
-nearly 2 million people were drafted in the army
-common for men to burn their draft cards and flee the country (usually to Canada) to protest Setting Tim O'Brien Characterization Did Tim O'Brien make the right decision?
Does he deserve to be called a 'coward'?

What would you do? Why??? Author Think About It TIM O'BRIEN Exposition Rising Action Climax Falling Action Resolution CONFLICT Internal
O'Brien vs. Himself
O'Brien vs. Society through actions
(leaves work and heads for Canada)
through speeches and thoughts
"The emotions went from outrage to terror to bewilderment to guilt to sorrow and then back again to outrage...Real disease" (49).
through other characters
through direct statements
"Tim O'Brien: a secret hero. The Lone Ranger" (43).
"I was too 'good' for this war. Too smart, too compassionate, too everything...I was above it...I was no soldier...I was 'liberal'" (45).
physical description
"twenty-one years old" (44).
"an ordinary kid with all the ordinary dreams and ambitions... (53-54). Elroy Berdahl through actions
(money and note)
(takes boat to Canada border, just fishing during break down)
through speeches and thoughts
"The man's self-control was amazing. He never pried" (54).
through other characters
"the hero of my life" (51).
accepting, but silent (52)
"...the man understood that words were insufficient" (54).
"the plain fact of crisis
"like God, or like the gods" (62).
through direct statements
"Hey O'Brien. There's Jesus" (53).
physical description
"old guy...eighty-one years old, skinny and shrunken and mostly bald" (51).
"wore a flannel shirt and brown work pants" (51).
"His eye had the bluish gray color of razor blade, the same polish and shine..." (51). Symbols -pig/water gun = Vietnam war
-dropping the water gun, leaving his job = walking away from the war
-Canada = freedom, escape
-Rainy River
-Elroy = God
"He took me in. He was there at the critical time---a silent, watchful presence" (51).
'moral': of, pertaining to, or concerned with the principles or rules of right conduct.
moral emergency, moral capital, moral confusion, moral split, moral freeze
IMPORTANT QUOTES "...if the evil were evil enough, if the good were good enough..." (43).
"Courage...comes to us in finite quantities, like an inheritance, and by being frugal and stashing it away and letting it earn interest, we steadily increase our moral capital in preparation for that day when the account must be drawn down" (43-44).
"The problem, though, was that a draft board did not let you choose your war" (47).
"None of it ever seemed real. It's like watching an old movie..." (57).
"I think he meant to bring me up against the realities, to guide me across the river and to take me to the edge to stand a kind of vigil as I chose a life for myself" (58).
"(see 59)...I understood that I would not do what I should do..." (59)
"It was as if there were an audience to my life, that swirl of faces along the river, and in my head I could hear people screaming at me. Traitor! They yelled...I couldn't tolerate it" (61).
"It had nothing to do with morality. Embarrassment, that's all it was" (62).
(see page 62)
"I survived, but it's not a happy ending. I was a coward. I went to the war" (63). "This is one story I've never told before. Not to anyone...the story makes me squirm...Still, it's a hard story to tell" (43). Shame
Beliefs vs. Expectations
Reasons for War -leaves work
-drives north
-Tip Top Lodge
-meets Elroy
-6 days
-works -fishing trip on the Rainy River
-breaks down crying
-makes his decision N/A -GOES TO WAR!!!
-???s his decision WAS ELROY THERE, TRULY?
DID ELROY EXIST IN THE FIRST PLACE?????? McKinley Paul Shreya Kanukunta Heyley Gatewood
English 1HP- Period C
May 10, 2013
Full transcript