The Character of Kien in The Sorrow of War Essay
692 Words3 Pages
Family life is very important to the Vietnamese people. Families had a great deal of respect for their ancestors, their present relatives, and the ones yet to come. In the Vietnamese family, sons respected their fathers. Everyone respected the dead and believed in the importance of a proper burial of the dead. The survival and honor of the family rested on these beliefs. Through the course of the war, Kien lost these values: his father was not properly respected, the dead were not appropriately buried, and were even forgotten. After the war, the Kien spends his time struggling to return to these values and purge his soul of these sins.
At the beginning of the novel,…show more content…
Then I saw a grenade in his hand…as I ran he started that horrible laughter…” (Ninh, 96). Because proper burials were almost non-existent during the war, the spirits of the once living are restless. However, after the war, Kien builds an altar in honor of the deceased. “Kien and his scout squad established an altar and prayed before it in secret, honoring and recalling the wandering souls from the 27th Battalion still in the Jungle of Screaming Souls.” (Ninh, 7). The soldiers also had sticks of incense constantly burning at the altar.
Remembrance of the dead is also an important part of Vietnamese life
The Sorrow of War Essay
1313 Words6 Pages
It can be hard to fully comprehend the effects the Vietnam War had on not just the veterans, but the nation as a whole. The violent battles and acts of war became all too common during the long years of the conflict. The war warped the soldiers and civilians characters and desensitized their mentalities to the cruelty seen on the battlefield. Bao Ninh and Tim O’Brien, both veterans of the war, narrate their experiences of the war and use the loss of love as a metaphor for the detrimental effects of the years of fighting.
Bao Ninh’s novel The Sorrow of War tells a very realistic and explicit story of Kien, a North Vietnamese soldier and writer, during the Vietnam War. Kien manages to survive, usually by luck, through battles and…show more content…
Kien also succumbs to alcoholism throughout the novel to try to hide the pain of the war. He does much of his writing while drunk at night time, at one point becoming almost nocturnal saying “At ight, when all around him grows dim, Kien feels closer to life” (Ninh, 116).
Kien mentions multiple times throughout the novel the desensitizing effect the war has had on not just his personality and emotions, but his entire life. Kien reminiscences about his youth when he was still capable of love, saying it “was now hard to imagine, hard to remember a time when his whole personality and character had been intact, a time before the cruelty and destruction had warped his soul” (Ninh, 30).
Ninh’s novel jumps between flashbacks of the war and Kien’s love affairs, in particular one with his childhood sweetheart Phuong. Ninh uses the reoccurring theme of Kien’s love, or loss of love, as a metaphor for the impact the war had on the Vietnamese people. The original title of the novel is actually The Destiny of Love. Kien likens the war to a soldiers love saying, “The sorrow of war inside a soldier’s heart was in a strange way similar to the sorrow of love. It was a kind of nostalgia…It was a sadness, a missing, a pain which could send one soaring back into the past” (Ninh, 94). Kien does find himself often reminiscing of his young innocent love with Phuong. The end of the novel focuses