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River

  • Date Submitted: 01/22/2012 09:19 PM
  • Flesch-Kincaid Score: 69.8 
  • Words: 724
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Almost from this novel’s first page we know that Kathy Wade will vanish, and it is not long before we discover that her disappearance will remain unsolved.   We then ask ourselves, “how is this novel considered a mystery if we never even find out what happened to Kathy?”   In the Lake of the Woods, by Tim O’Brien, still has undeniable suspense.   There are other topics in the novel like the impact of the Vietnam War, morality, and human behavior that help us see beyond the mystery of Kathy’s disappearance.

Certain events that took place during the Vietnam War remain a mystery to most of us.   People never seem to talk about what really happened in Vietnam.   Tim O’Brien does not fail to reveal a solution to this book of mystery.   He reveals the horrors of the My Lai Massacre throughout the novel but most in chapter 13, The Nature of the Beast.   The following quote is of the morning of the My Lai Massacre as described by Tim O’Brien:

He (John Wade) watched a young man hobbling up a trail, one foot torn away at the ankle.   He watched Weatherby shoot two little girls in the face.   Deeper into the village, in front of a small L-shaped hootch, he came across a GI with a woman’s black ponytail flowing from his helmet.   The man wiped a hand across his crotch.   He gave a little flip to the ponytail and smiled at Sorcerer and blooped an M-79 round into the L-shaped hootch…At his feet was a wailing infant.   A middle-aged woman lay nearby.   She was draped across a bundle of straw, not quite dead, shot in the legs and stomach.   The woman gazed at the world with indifference.   At one point she made an obscure motion with her head, a kind of bow, inexact, after which she rocked herself away.   (106)

So, in a way, even if we argue that the novel is not a mystery because Kathy has vanished and has not been found, the mystery of the My Lai Massacre has been revealed.  

Morality is also a big topic in the novel.   When John Wade is in My Lai, he’s confused on what to do...

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