November 2

Blog #91 – Vietnam

Tim O’Brien’s book, The Things They Carried, focuses on the members of Alpha Company as they hump across Vietnam and also how they dealt with civilian life (“Speaking of Courage”). 

1. The things that the soldiers carried in battle were not just physical things but mental / emotional as well.  Henry Dobbins wore his girlfriend’s pantyhose around his neck as a comforter.  But after the war is over and done with, the soldiers, like Lt. Cross, carry guilt and pain around with them.

2. The novel is also about truth, especially with the story, “How to Tell a True War Story,” which seems contradictory in many cases.  But maybe that’s what the truth really is in a war-time environment – unclear.

3. The novel also captures loneliness and isolation experienced by the American soldiers while in the Vietnamese jungle.  Though the soldiers are surrounded by their comrades in arms, many don’t feel a connection to each other.  Could this be because they’ve been drafted into a war they don’t want to fight?  Or that war is the most loneliest experience – do or die on the battlefield?

4. How does shame or the idea of letting another person down motivate Tim and other soldiers in the stories?

“They carried the soldier’s greatest fear, which was the fear of blushing. Men killed, and died, because they were embarrassed not to. It was what had brought them to the war in the first place, nothing positive, no dreams of glory or honor, just to avoid the blush of dishonor. They died so as not to die of embarrassment.”

Pick two of the four topics to write about and also include a brief assessment of the book. 

300 words minimum for your total response.  Due by Wednesday, Nov. 9 by class (yep, Wednesday).  

Image result for tim o'brien the things they carried pdf 

May 9

Blog #85 – Forrest Gump as Nostalgia

The movie, Forrest Gump, takes viewers on a ride through the 1950s, and tumultuous 60s and 70s right into the mid 1980s. Along the way, Forrest and Jenny represent two different paths that Americans traveled during the time period (albeit, for white people).

The movie also represents a way of interpreting that time period of history, and it brings to mind this quote from Joel Achenbach:

“History isn’t the thing itself, but rather a story we tell, and the story changes, new elements are added, others forgotten, myths invented, causes imagined, facts debunked.  History is a process of imposing order on a chaotic process, inventing causality and finding meaning.”

Your job is to apply this quote to FG and explain how the movie is trying to tell a story about history, doing the things that Achenbach said.

Minimum of 300 words. Due Monday, May 16 by the beginning of class.

https://www.yahoo.com/movies/when-forrest-gump-stumbled-into-the-90s-culture-wars-90475343717.html – read this article for more thoughts on the movie.

October 20

Blog #79 – Vietnam in Fiction

Tim O’Brien’s book, The Things They Carried, focuses on the members of Alpha Company as they hump across Vietnam and also how they dealt with civilian life (“Speaking of Courage”). 

1. The things that the soldiers carried in battle were not just physical things but mental / emotional as well.  Henry Dobbins wore his girlfriend’s pantyhose around his neck as a comforter.  But after the war is over and done with, the soldiers, like Lt. Cross, carry guilt and pain around with them.  How did the soldiers cope with being in combat?

2. The novel is also about truth, especially with the story, “How to Tell a True War Story,” which seems contradictory in many cases.  But maybe that’s what the truth really is in a war-time environment – unclear.   Why isn’t the truth always clear, especially as shown as in the novel?

3. The novel also captures loneliness and isolation experienced by the American soldiers while in the Vietnamese jungle.  Though the soldiers are surrounded by their comrades in arms, many don’t feel a connection to each other.  Could this be because they’ve been drafted into a war they don’t want to fight?  Or that war is the most loneliest experience – do or die on the battlefield?

4. How does shame or the idea of letting another person down motivate Tim and other soldiers in the stories?

“They carried the soldier’s greatest fear, which was the fear of blushing. Men killed, and died, because they were embarrassed not to. It was what had brought them to the war in the first place, nothing positive, no dreams of glory or honor, just to avoid the blush of dishonor. They died so as not to die of embarrassment.”

300 words minimum – pick two of the above questions and include an assessment of the book.  

DUE Thursday night 11:59 p.m.  October 22.  

June 10

Blog #21 – 1968 Chicago Convention a microcosm of the 1960s?

After we’d watched the American Experience video on the Chicago Convention in 1968 on Friday, it struck me how much that the clash encapsulated many of the tensions in the 1960s.  See this link for a day-by-day calendar of the tumultuous events of 1968.  For instance:

Students in Chicago holding North Vietnamese flags in 1968.

 – The differing tactics of the anti-war protestors as symbolized by David Dellinger and Rennie Davis (non-violence) vs. Tom Hayden (“by any means necessary”) and the outcome of the marches and even legal protests at Grant Park;

 

– The peace platform delegates and followers of Senator Eugene McCarthy (dove) who tried to be heard at the Democratic National Convention, but the old guard (Mayor Richard Daley) that supported Vice President Hubert Humphrey (hawk) and the war in Vietnam;

 

 – The class differences between Chicago’s working class police officers and the “spoiled brats” as U.S. Attorney Thomas Moran called the college students who had gathered in Chicago to protest the war that could directly affect any of these young men with the draft on either side of the riot line (though truthfully, the police officers were most likely to get drafted and not be able to a deferment from a doctor or university);

 

– the rise of violence, disorder and chaos in daily life that impacted the political process like the deaths of John Kennedy (1963), Malcolm X (1965), and Dr. King and Robert Kennedy (1968).  There had been riots in Watts, Los Angeles, Detroit and Newark, N.J., and across the country after Dr. King’s death in April 1968. 

 – The rights to free speech and freedom to peaceably assemble were directly challenged at this convention by the Chicago Police Dept. and the Illinois National Guard.  Furthermore, the indirect censorship of the TV coverage by not allowing more than one live feed from the city (infringement of freedom of the press) so that the TV news couldn’t cover both the convention and the protests at the same time. 

 

Questions:

1. Do you think the police used “reasonable force” when dispersing the protestors during the week of the convention?   When?  Why or why not?

2. Do you think that the peace delegates / McCarthy’s followers would have been satisfied if President Johnson had allowed VP Humphrey to make some concessions over the Vietnam War? Why or why not?

3. Do you think that the images from this convention influenced the outcome of the 1968 election w/ Nixon and Wallace?  Why or why not?

Blog due Tuesday, June 14.  300 words minimum for the total blog.

Link to PBS film on Robert Kennedy.

Link to PBS film on Dr. King’s assassination, Roads to Memphis (watch online too!).

 Link to PBS film on My Lai Massacre. 

Link to PBS film on the Freedom Riders.