The Sorrow of War

1239 words 5 pages
The Sorrow of War

Bao Ninh’s The Sorrow of War is a novel that is a personal view of the Vietnam War from the perspective of a Vietnamese soldier. Like the American novel “The things they carried”, this novel brings about the effects of war on people, and especially how it defeats the human capacity for things such as love and hope. Bao Ninh offers this realistic picture of the Vietnam War’s impact on the individual Vietnamese soldier through use of a series of reminiscences or flashbacks, jumping backwards and forwards in time between the events most salient in memory, events which take on a different theme each time they are examined. His main protagonist Kien, who is basically Bao himself, looks back not just at his ten years at
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To Bao it was a time he lost himself and it is shown through the character of Kien. Family and personal values were mixed for instance the relationship of friends and family before and after the war. At the beginning of the novel, we learn that Kien never understood his father. Kien also states that he comprehends “why his mother had left his father and come to live with this wise, kind-hearted man” (59). It appears that Kien does not respect his father as his culture dictates. Before the war Kien respects him and takes care of him. “Whenever he went into his father’s attic studio Kien’s heart ached and he choked with compassion, Twice a day Kien would bring frugal meals to his father” (124). Kien may not have a close father-son relationship with his father, but he still takes care of his father, as a son should do. It is not until he struggles to organize his chaotic life after the war that Kien understands his father. “Only now, in his middle age, could Kien truly understand those years” (124). The next thing was the value of burial, Bao thought of himself neglecting the dead and ancestor when Kien and the Vietnamese army didn’t really take care of their dead. During the war, the soldiers had no time to conduct the appropriate ceremonies for the dead. The Jungle of Screaming Souls is haunted by the souls of the restless dead who


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