Going After Cacciato Essay Research Paper
Traveling After Cacciato Essay, Research Paper
& # 65279 ; It is by and large recognized that Tim O & # 8217 ; Brien & # 8217 ; s Traveling After Cacciato ( 1978 ) is most likely
the best novel of the Vietnam war, albeit an unusual one in that it innovatively combines the
experiential pragmatism of war with surrealism, chiefly through the hyperactive imaginativeness of the
supporter, Spec Four Paul Berlin. The first chapter of this novel is of more than usual
importance. Designed to be a self-sufficing narrative ( McCaffery 137 ) and frequently anthologized as
one, this chapter is important to the novel in that it non merely introduces us to the characters and the
state of affairs but besides sets the tenor of the novel and reveals its writer & # 8217 ; s position of this war in relation to
which all else in the novel must be judged.
In chapter 1, the secret plan of the full novel is defined: A really immature soldier named Cacciato
comeuppances, meaning to walk to Paris by land. As his squad follows under orders to capture him,
Paul Berlin begins his absorbing mind-journey of & # 8220 ; traveling after Cacciato, & # 8221 ; of flight from, and
subsequently a redirect examination of, the world of war. But what is defined foremost, in the first two pages to be
exact, is this war & # 8217 ; s world and its cost to the immature American soldiers involved. These pages list
for us those who have died, in action and otherwise, and those who have been maimed, at times
through self-injury, underlining the urgency of the desire to populate. These pages besides vividly
delineate for us the day-to-day wretchednesss and agonies of the Vietnam war, from rain and clay to disease
and decomposing flesh, from humdrum and fright to a profound sense of futility. As Paul Berlin narrates,
& # 8220 ; It was a bad clip & # 8221 ; ( O & # 8217 ; Brien 1 ) . And the immature soldiers undergo all of this while being & # 8220 ; led & # 8221 ; by
an ailment, alcoholic, cynical lieutenant who can non even retrieve who among his immature
charges is whom, or who is dead or alive. One thing that the book misses, nevertheless, is the same
agony, possibly even worse, that was imposed upon the Vietnamese people. This is typical of
novels from this clip ; they all exhibit a bold ethnocentricism ( Lomperis 5 ) .
However, the first chapter does incorporate one really powerful image of devastation from the
Vietnamese point of view, which helps to do this drab portrayal of the Vietnam War more
complete. We are told that Berlin and his squad are taking refuge inside a about ruined Buddhist
& # 8230 ; in shadows was the cross-legged Buddha, smiling from its elevated rock perch. The
pagoda was cold. Dank from a month of rain, the topographic point smelled of clays and silicates and
pot and old incense. It was a individual square room built like a toque with rock walls and
a level ceiling that forced the work forces to crouch or kneel. Once it might hold been a all right house
of worship, but now it was debris. Sandbags blocked the Windowss. Spots of broken clayware
ballad under chipped bases. The Buddha & # 8217 ; s right arm was losing, but the
integral. Head cocked, the statue seemed interested in the lieutenant & # 8217 ; s long sigh. ( O & # 8217 ; Brien
In this otherwise really American novel, which focuses on the American soldiers & # 8217 ; experiences,
feelings, and heads ( Lomperis 63 ) , and in which Vietnam is presented chiefly as simply a terrain
and a clime, this image of the pagoda seems to be symbolic of the state of Vietnam at this
clip. Invaded, desecrated, about destroyed, it still endured, sustained by a civilization and a
spiritualty against which the war and the American warriors seem unimportant and little.
Some critics have thought that Traveling After Cacciato is & # 8220 ; non an antiwar novel & # 8221 ; ( Vannatta
246 ; McCaffery 145 ) , but certainly they must be wrong. If, as the common yarn of thought
among critics suggests, that this novel is preoccupied with memory and particularly imaginativeness,
so certainly the overpowering horror busying the memories and imaginativenesss of the American
warriors, and particularly our supporter, can merely be understood as an antiwar statement. And if
at the terminal of the novel Paul Berlin finds he must return, resigned to the war world, he makes clear
to us that he does so non because of & # 8220 ; bravery & # 8221 ; ( Bates 278 ) or rule but because, like his
Godhead, he can non defy the social force per unit areas of household and state and is afraid of the
isolation and adversity that resistance to them would enforce ( 322-23 ) & # 8211 ; an apprehensible but
barely a pro-war stance.
As for O & # 8217 ; Brien himself, he has often said that war is a complex matter, particularly for
those who must confront it straight, but his prevailing position has become progressively expressed. For
case, shortly after this novel was published, he said that his chief concern in it was & # 8220 ; to hold
readers care about what & # 8217 ; s right and incorrect and about the trouble of making right, the trouble of
stating no to war & # 8221 ; ( Schroeder 146 ) . Several old ages subsequently, talking at the Asia Society conference
in 1985, he was even more forthright: & # 8220 ; Wouldn & # 8217 ; t all of us admit that a error was made in
Vietnam? & # 8230 ; we misunderstood Vietnamese history & # 8230 ; and we were hiting anyhow & # 8221 ; ( Lomperis
73 ) . Both the novel and the writer condemn this war. And it is in this novel & # 8217 ; s first, important
chapter that such positions are most clearly embodied, modeling all the remainder.
Bates, Milton J. & # 8220 ; Tim O & # 8217 ; Brien & # 8217 ; s Myth of Courage. & # 8221 ; Modern Fiction Studies 33.2 ( summer
1987 ) : 263-79
Lomperis, Timothy J. & # 8220 ; Reading the Wind & # 8221 ; : The Literature of the Vietnam War. Durham: Duke
McCaffery, Larry. & # 8220 ; Interview with Tim O & # 8217 ; Brien. & # 8221 ; Chicago Review 33.2 ( 1982 ) :129-49.
Schroeder, Eric James. & # 8220 ; Two Interviews: Negotiations with Tim O & # 8217 ; Brien and Robert Stone. & # 8221 ; Modern
Fiction Studies 30.1 ( spring 1984 ) : 135-64.
Vannatta, Dennis. & # 8220 ; Theme and Structure in Tim O & # 8217 ; Brien & # 8217 ; s Traveling After Cacciato. & # 8221 ; Modern
Fiction Studies 28.2 ( summer 1982 ) : 242-6.