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Short Story Essay
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Short Story Essay
“Where have you gone, Charming Billy?”
Tim O’Brien wrote
“Where have you Gone, Charming Billy?”
in order to describe the Vietnam War to the general public. O’Brien was a brave man because he could have just fled to Canada in order to avoid the draft, but he resisted the urge and went to war. He was also a brave man, because he decided that he wanted to talk about the war. In which most of the men are staying inside of there shells. In the story, “Where have you Gone, Charming Billy” Private First Class Paul Berlin changes greatly from beginning to the end of the story.
To start, PFC (Private First Class) Paul Berlin was nervous throughout most of the story, but his fear is more noticeable in the beginning of the story then it is in the end. The reader can tell that he is nervous because he worked hard to keep the death of Billy Boy Watkins, out of his head. The reader may be wondering how he did so, one of the ways that he did so, was counting his steps. In doing so he pretended that with every step that he took it made him richer and richer through the night. Every step is one dollar more in his bank account, and soon PFC Paul Berlin would become a millionaire! And if he was getting richer by the minute, he needed to know how to spend all of his well-earned money, so that was another way that he kept the death of Billy Boy Watkins out of his head. One other way that PFC Paul Berlin kept his sanity, was by thinking about the many different ways that he could spend his millions. As stated in the story on page 828, line 21, PFC Paul Berlin says, “He pretended he was not a soldier.” This also helps in telling you that he was tense and he did not want to be there.
In the story, the reader can tell that the death of Billy Boy Watkins is a big part of the story. As the story is read,
“Where have you gone, Charming Billy?
“O’Brien refers to his death a multitude of times. PFC Paul Berlin even writes a lovely song about old Billy Boy, on page 831, line 75 “
Where have you gone, Billy Boy, Oh, Where have you gone, Charming Billy?
It also seems like O’Brien’s writing style just puts out a vibe in the story that the death of Billy Boy Watkins is in the mood of the story. Consistently throughout the story PFC Paul Berlin has flashbacks of Billy Boy Watkins’ death, this as well gives the reader the picture that it made him worry.
Towards the end of the story, PFC Paul Berlin starts giggling, then the absurd amount of giggling turns to laughing enormously, then in to just all-out bawling in forms of laughter. This leads me to believe that PFC Paul Berlin lost his ‘cool’ by just laughing for more than a page of the story. In the story, Page 834 line 191, PFC Paul Berlin says this:
“He could not stop – laughing”
While O‘Brien is describing the amount of laughter that PFC Paul Berlin is experiencing, you hear and vision flashbacks of young Billy Boy Watkins death or just another reason for you to believe that PFC Paul Berlin lost his ‘cool’in the story.
In conclusion, Private First Class Paul Berlin’s attitude changes over the course of the story, as shown at the beginning of the story, PFC Paul Berlin was very skittish and jittery about the war. Towards the middle of the story, PFC Paul Berlin noticeably calms down to a relaxed feeling. Then, as I stated earlier, he faces an unfortunate nervous breakdown with crazy amounts of intense laughter and penetrating flashbacks.
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