Sample Essay

Another important theme that recurs in O’Brien’s works about Vietnam is the contrast of individual and collective. As the story revolves around the lives of the soldiers whose lives are thought ideal when they are united. Besides the positive sides of the unity of the soldiers that helps them to combat their enemy, the negative part of collectivity can not be ignored. The expense of the unity of the soldiers is the loss of individuality. Whoever is the soldier in his actions and feelings is not important.

Therefore the death of Tim Lavender is reported as a casualty of the Alpha company rather than the death of Lavender. The contrast is between a single soldier, who may be suffering with his emotional turmoil and memories of his family which he has left for the sake of duty, and a unit that is consisted of many soldiers known through their ranks rather than their names. The soldiers are ripped of their individuality during their military training in order to be molded into a single unit. In the story the platoon consisting of soldiers is led under the command of Lt. Cross who directs his platoon to move together along with the items of necessity which they are carrying. The soldiers are treated as the bodies who are void of any thoughts and feelings which they are expected to leave behind to their homes.

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