Day 17 October 24, 2002
1. Names. Hist. surveys due Tuesday. This is a key part of these projects; dig for substantial and reliable sources, think carefully about the scope of history it’s most important for you to address and the particular issues/events/people/etc. most crucial to your topic. Remember the works cited page and handling documentation carefully.
Juhnke here, as I said last time—plan for a 40-minute class or so, then we’ll break when he needs to leave, but plan to attend Forum if at all possible.
2. Current events moment. They may have the DC snipers, let’s hope at least. Continuing talk about Iraq and what to do there. One thing I came across in the last few days, from Cambodia, which connects surprisingly to War Memorials and one of its main themes:
The vigil and the petition signers were a mix of US citizens, Australians,
Britons, French, Italians, Japanese, New Zealanders, Filipinos and other
expatriates who are outraged at being told "You must either follow the US
administration's war plan, or you are on the side of terrorism." It has been
30 years since the US bombing of Cambodia stopped, 10 years since the civil
war ended. But the effects of the destruction run deep.
We are here clearing land mines and unexploded bombs and treating the more
than 600 people per year who are injured by these leftover weapons of war.
We work with fractured communities where decades of displacement and
uncertainty have caused educational systems, social systems, and
agricultural systems to collapse, and where power rests with whoever
controls the guns. We have some idea of how things will look after the TV
news stops running the patriotic music and the US Defense Department videos
of "smart weapons" in action.
3. Starting in on War Memorials. I read this book a couple of summers ago, and thought about it for this class at once, partly because I just enjoyed it so much, and partly because it seems to me to bring up and dramatize a lot of “issues in modern America” in a dramatic and accessible way. Another reason is that I know Clint well, consider him a true friend, and I know that he’s not a pacifist much less a Mennonite. I was fascinated by his take on war and what war and the memory of war and combat mean for Americans, especially American men, and that’s one of the main things that I want to discuss with you over these next days.
To get started, let’s talk some about main themes and conflicts that get set up early on. What would some of those be? The first pages—Nolan’s father the war hero, killed twice but still alive and selling insurance, vs. Nolan the misfit and hapless drifter. 4: Nolan defines himself by things he hasn’t done. His wife’s having an affair with a man who was a better athlete than Nolan. He’s worked for his father all his life, and now is reduced to being an assistant repo man.
The first chapter, and the figure of Jerry Rathburn. He’s sort of strangely placed here, wouldn’t you say? We learn about him mainly through Nolan’s somewhat hazy memories—he says he only saw him maybe three times—and because his body’s in a chair in the living room of the house they break into to repossess the refrigerator. But what do we learn about him? That after Vietnam he was never worth much? That he was in and out of VA hospitals, maybe because of Agent Orange (12). http://www.lewispublishing.com/orange.htm
the above link is connected to a website which deals with helping persons
cope with PTSD (Post Traumatic Stress Disorder) after the Vietnam War. It's
a new proceedure which uses virtual reality to connect the person back to
Vietnam to help them "deal with the memory" so they can move on with their
Jerry’s obituary, 13: “hollow as a spent shell.”
Nolan and his cousin Dell just load up the frig and head out, they stay out of it. Nolan’s trying to figure out what it means, 14, but is considerably at a loss.
Ch. 2, “History Lessons,” set in Tump’s greasy spoon diner, where the bacon is greasy too. Nolan’s father comes in, and their conflict, with the others as well, is the focus of this section, right? The thing with dad and war memorials, 24. What is it about that? Why is he so compelled to visit them, do you think? Does the story he tells at the end of the chapter have anything to do with it?
26-27: What’s Morgan’s view of the service? He’s a health inspector and the man in charge of the Tuesday night poker game at Tump’s. He pushes Daddy Vann to tell Nolan about what he got from the war, how it affected him.
http://lists.village.virginia.edu/sixties/HTML_docs/Survivor.html (From Laura, Vietnam soldier stories).
So what’s the unexpected twist of father Vann’s story? That in the process of saving himself and his buddies on the plane, he killed a woman and child who came out to see them land . . .
Note here: on how veterans deal with war experience. With compulsive telling, with the kind of “it made a man” of me attitude Morgan has, or with Father Vann’s kind of silence? The point isn’t that one kind of reaction is right or wrong, but that all are present.
On Dresden: http://www.eppc.org/publications/xq/ASP/pubsID.123/qx/pubs_viewdetail.htm (brief editorial cf. Dresden and Hiroshima)
“Cheap Imitations”: Seeing Jesus in the A & P. Religion is another main thread of this book. Nolan finds the letter Laney’s written but not sent to Steve, which is entirely “I don’t know what to do.” Might be worse, from his point of view. And poor Randall the lizard bites the dust.
“Stone Bridge”: conversation with Gram, who gives him a peach. Dawes the hardware man, who hates his store and wants to turn it into a marble emporium. The Stone Bridge, where Nolan’s grandpa wanted a monument.
61 The people in the black neighborhood, run down houses etc. Class is an issue here as well, yes? Nolan seems more comfortable there, but why?
Grace Elder, who’s got her boys in the river looking for snakes. She’s part of Brother Willis’s snake-handling church.
And the book, not the Bible but the Handbook of Actuarial Statistics. Nolan says it gets in his head, so that he “could hardly look at people without calculating their risk factors.”
“The world was an infinitely fatal place, but with built-in profit margins for those who knew the odds.”
This book is very interesting and well written. McCown has an unusual way with words that makes his characters very believable as small town folks. His main character has the kind of easy and browbeaten nature of someone whose lived in a small town all his life. Particularly a "God and Country" small town like this one.
I particularly like the way the McCown has juxtaposed characters describing thier war experiences mostly as bad, i.e. Nolan's fathers, Colonial Hereford, with everyone talking about how great being in the army is and how it makes a "real man" out of you.
It's interesting that the characters have a very positive attitude toward war when in actuality those who fought in it can only describe bad things.
It seems that many of the characters in this novel, perhaps with the exception of the narrator, think that being in the army can save a person and make them better. At first I thought that it was a commentary on how war has changed since World War II. The incident with Jerry Rathburn makes a good case for this. However, later when Nolan's father and Colonial Hereford start talking about their war experiences they aren't much better than what one imagines happened to Rathburn.
My website is a powerpoint that deals with disillusionment after war. It comes from a high school AP history class. The first several slides deal with the disillusionment with war in literature and then it moves on to art. Here's the address:
24 October 2002
This Nolan Vann character is turning out to be a rather odd character. It seems as if he doesn’t really have control over his life. He begins by talking about his dad and saying how their lived don’t anything in common and then says how he doesn’t really have a direction. (pg. 4) It seems as if these first four chapters he’s living life rather haphazardly, doing whatever he happens to find himself doing at the moment and that’s about it. I think everyone finds themselves doing that at some point in their life. You just go through the motions and do your daily tasks without much emotion or liveliness in it. The important thing is catching yourself in time and snapping out of it. I personally don’t want to go through my life doing the bare minimum to get by without really living and enjoying the time that I’ve been given here. I get the notion that much of this book is going to be about Nolan finally realizing that he’s got to make some changes in his life. This first portion of this book seems to be where Nolan lets us as the readers in on what’s going on. Perhaps later he’s going to do something about the issues he’s posing.
One thing that I hope he does something about by the end of the book is his marriage. His wife is cheating on him, he knows it, yet he chooses to ignore it for whatever reason. He also manages to keep secrets from her and she from him, yet they both probably (and seem to) know them anyways! He was fired from a job (by his father nonetheless) and now is taking on a repo job where he doesn’t have to interact with people (pg. 7). He went from a job which was in the straight and narrow to one that was dangerous and very sketchy. He sees himself as drifting into the fringes (pg 10). Perhaps he’s trying so hard to be unlike his father that he’s removing himself from people and responsibilities. He imagines himself being thrown in jail, not exactly something a well-respected individual would get caught up in, especially not one that is esteemed highly and written about in the newspapers. (This seems to be a reoccurring thing.) Individual’s characters seem to be determined by what the papers write: positive things, Jim Vann, or negative ones, Jerry Rathburn.)
Nolan is definitely going through a lot of internal struggles. Of course this seems pretty valid with the situation he’s in. He finds himself looking for any sort of a job, even if it is for the same individual his wife’s cheating on him with. (Not to mention potentially having a baby with) He is also dealing with living in the shadow of his father, who seems to be just as messed up of a character so far. He seems rather superficial with his insurance salesman smile. Though this seems to be broken when he recants the tale of his war experience. As though this may have in fact affected more deeply than anyone has ever known. I found a website that’s actually called “The Sixties Project” and has some narratives about individuals living through the time of the Vietnam War. Each seems to have been affected differently than the others. It’s a bit different than even this character seems to be dealing with his experience. This particular gentleman said in his narrative, “I, being a veteran of Viet Nam, have heard many stories about post traumatic stress syndrome. That's the delayed release of horror, anger, stress, and all the other abnormalities we bury in the dark recesses of our minds to keep from dealing with it. Well, I've got news for the world. Anybody who was born during the late forties, grew up in the last days of simplicity (the 1950's), and weathered the storm of change in the sixties, has or will experience delayed stress syndrome; man or woman, veteran or non-veteran.” This makes sense to me. I don’t think I really understand what war is like. It seems to be all encompassing though. Not just those fighting are affected, if you’re alive at the time it seems to me that there’s no way you can’t be affected in some way.
Nolan really seems to be searching for meaning in himself and in general I think. It was interesting when he said “Maybe some of us are more like that, born with something we can’t ever get rid of, some basic knowledge that right away makes us who we are.” (pg 27) Perhaps his understanding of why his father, his wife, and why he himself is the way that they are as the book unfolds. Right now he seems to be analyzing individual’s actions as he goes along. He also appears to have some big questions that don’t necessarily have answers to them like “is there such a thing as the sped of darkness?” That one seems pretty crazy, yet logical.
I don’t think I like the way he ended the third chapter on Monday evening. He was snooping around though it goes against what he would normally do, breaks the roll top desk, reads his wife’s love letter, the lizard gets killed, his wife walks in and turns on the light, and he gets caught, and the chapter ends?! The next page its 9 am and he’s on his way to find work. That was a rather shady way to end the chapter; hopefully he’ll come back to it.
Issues- Response #4 Krissy Hoffman
My impression of War Memorials before I started reading it was that it was going to be someone’s recollection of their experience of war. However, as I began reading I was quite intrigued. It was not at all what I thought it would be, and I found it to be quite enjoyable reading. So far what I have interpreted from the life of Nolan is that he seems to lack the inspiration to do anything for himself. He seems to almost hide behind the life of his father, not being able to live up to it. Nolan mentioned that he and his father had totally different lives and that he would not be anything if it were not for his father (4). From this, I sense that Nolan does not think he is capable of doing what he wants. Maybe he is afraid that he will not do anything that his father would be proud of. It seems that from the start, Nolan felt worthless. He mentions that he never did the things his father did, such as play football or go to war. By creating this attitude, it has made Nolan think that he could never do anything. He seems to follow behind his father, almost taking advantage of what he has provided him. But when the day came that his father fired him, Nolan seemed even more lost and more in the need of some sort of inspiration. The website that I found is on inspiration and provides many sources on it. There are quotes, books, shorts stories, and many other types of inspirational material. Whenever I am feeling stressed out, I often look to such inspirational materials in order to get some motivation to keep going, knowing that it will be okay. Maybe this is something that Nolan needed. He may have needed the initial inspiration and knowledge that he could do whatever he wanted as long as he put forth the effort. I think that if Nolan had some personal inspiration he would feel more comfortable talking to his wife, Laney. Maybe he would be able to tell her how he feels and what has happened with his career, some explanations that I believe are needed. Once Nolan establishes some sort of inspiration for himself, he will feel more worthwhile and try to do something for himself.
Inspiration Peak. 1995. <http://www.inspirationpeak.com/index.html>.
As I read this book, I was struck by Tump telling Nolan that the "worst thing that ever happened to this country was they got rid of the draft" and "the service is good training for anybody" (pg. 25). I can see how the war could be training for some things. For example it's where Tump learned to cook. But when I read this page I thought, what about those who don't focus on that positive side of war? So I looked for a web site that contained stories from veterans in the war. I found warstories.com and i looked specifically at the site:
In this particular site the author explains the bloody side of war and death. He remembers the cries of hurt that echoed through the battlefield. The soldiers stand in fear of death as they hear everything around them, but even in the midst of this they do as they were taught...kill. My thought is that if these men were in a different position, their first reaction would not be to fire. They have become desensitized by their training and have lost all sense of the human lives they are taking. At the end he claims that there is no hero in death, only the hope that (everlasting) life will follow, whether in life or death.
I saw this type of change in behavior also in the movie Platoon. Even in the beginning scenes the men were becoming desensitized to the fact that the Vietnamese were real people with lives too. I don't need to go into the details to explain how sickening this was to me. This definitely gave me a picture of the negative side of war. In watching this movie, I have decided to better define my beliefs on the issue of war. I grew up Mennonite, thus carrying the label of "pacifist". However, in the past two years I have begun to really dig deeper into my faith and claim my own beliefs rather than just carry those of my parents. I have struggled (and still do) with the topic of pacifism. I see the negative side and say "I don't want war". But then it is brought to my attention that after all other means are tried, there may be "just wars". I am hoping that through Bible study as well as other types of searching, I will be able to come to some sort of conclusion.
is a response from Suzy Bauman:
The website that I found to connect with some of the things read about in the first part of War Memorials is: http://www.spartacus.schoolnet.co.uk/2WWfirestorm.htm
My first reaction to this book was, “When in the world is it going to talk about war?” There was a short mentioning of his father and the fact that his father was in the military in the beginning, but then nothing really on it for a while. The only real war memorial that’s obvious was the story discussed by his father about his bombardier experience in Dresden. Personally, I like the way that the book was written. I like the narrative form that it took on. This was what captured my interest. It discussed the life of an ordinary person and how the issue of war has impacted him thus far. The story that his father told about the bomb getting stuck in the bomb-bay door was interesting to me. Just this concept gave me a sick feeling to my stomach, especially not knowing whether or not the bomb was armed. The story gave me a real look into some of the problems that occurred during the war, rather than just the combat emphasis that I often hear. The rest of the stories dis! cussed in this book about his wife, Laney and her secret life that’s she’s living and about his job and finding Jerry Rathburn kept the book into his life at the moment. I also found the part interesting about Jerry Rathburn in the paper after his death. I never thought about the write-ups in the papers about war vets. When his father was thought to be dead they made a huge deal about it in the paper. But Jerry, also a war vet, didn’t get so much of a write-up. They seemed to focus more on his life after Vietnam; the life that wasn’t law-abiding. So far, this book seems to be pretty easy to read and quite interesting.
I thought the most interresting part of the story was the fact that
Nolan's dad was a bombadier so I found this website about Dresden.
The book wasn't at all like I expected it to be. I thought it would be
about war and the memorials which represent certain battles. When I started
reading and found out it was about the life of Nolan I was surprised. It
was funny, in parts, and kept my attention the whole time and I soon forgot
what I had expected it to be and just read the story.
Nolan's relationship with his wife was interresting too because of the
fact that she was cheating on him and they didn't seem happy. It was a sad
relationship but the author made it funny with the lizard. I felt really
sorry for Nolan because he lost his job, his living room was destroyed and
his wife was at a motel with Steve on Valentine's Day when she was supposed
to be with her sister. It was sad on page 48 when Nolan broke Miss Bessie's
old rolltop desk and Laney almost caught him. Nolan says, "I knew about
Steve Pitts, in fact I had always known about Steve Pitts... ...I was barely
on speaking terms with my father, I'd lost my job at the agency and was now
a part-time repo man... ...Laney's baby probably wasn't mine, but-sure, why
not say it-that Laney still looked good, damned good, even after all these
years, even in the goddamned dark..." I felt really sorry for his character
at that moment. I am interrested to see what happens to him in the rest of
The War Memorials is not the book I was expecting. It is a great read with
a light side and deep themes. I was expecting a war book. A book that told
these terrible stories of all the things that went wrong with different
wars. I am only to cottonmouth, about four chapters in. To this point
there has been little on war its self, but more about the effects of war on
people that come home. I am not disappointed by this topic it is
interesting to me. The odd part of the book is in the basic elements of
writing one. The story is from the perspective of someone who has himself
never gone to war. His dad has gone and been thought dead. A guy he knew
in passing was in Vietnam and was “killed” by natural causes.
The part that really hit me was the picture of the young Vann and Dell
finding the body of Rathburn. I could smell the smells in the room. I
could see the dirt on everything; it really came to life for me. It really
made me feel my own mortality. It is not often that I think about this.
The book just seemed to draw it out of me. I could see the man sitting
there remembering his life as he died. All the people he killed, all of the
stupid things he had done, none of it really mattered at the end he died
alone. One reason this hits me so hard is that I believe it is my worse
fear. Not the fact of dieing its self just that I would like someone I love
there with me.
The other part that made me think, smile, and sad inside all at the same
time is the when they are talking about the monuments around them. Young
Vann even asks “what Andrew Jackson monument”. People don’t even take care
of it anymore. It’s out by the wal-mart. Well I don’t know about most but
all the wal-marts I know are always busily. People would have to see it
every day. Like the book says people just don’t care anymore. How true
this is. I have lots of monuments at home in Canton. It seems like the
only things that care about them are the pigeons. All they really care
about is shitting on them. In fact that’s all there really good for, shit.
People get tired of everything even tragedy and war. How sad that in our
society war and horrific things have become cliché. Even the world trade
center bombing has become a distance memory in many ways. People no longer
care about waving the flag or caring for there fellow man. It only took a
year for the word terrorist to become “over played” in our minds and on our
TV’s. What a world we live in.
All in all I think that the book has started out well. It has made we
think and keep me up late reading it. What more can you ask of a book? The
one nice part about this book that the Color Purple did not have was the
speed at witch it came to life for me. This one started out quickly and has
started slipping. For the color purple it was the opposite. I had to get
over the initial shock before I could really “know” the caricatures.
I have found myself really flying through this book and could not put it
down after our first four chapters! (That’s always a plus in assigned
books!) I’m really enjoying the narrative style in which it is written. The
book is very witty and I’ve found myself laughing out loud several times. I
have especially found the author’s tie of the typical “church lady” (who is
found in every church!) into the story-line very comical. It is written in
such a light and capricious way but it really touches on some deep issues.
One of these issues I kind of branched out on was domestic violence
particularly in the military. This was not an issue hugely elaborated or
even directly pointed out in this book but was kind of implicated with Jerry
Rathburn’s actions after returning from the war. These actions included
shooting two boys in their legs to break up a fight, kidnapping his wife and
then tying her down to a chair. There’s no excuse for this type of behavior
but the question is what stress, action, or experience brought Jerry to
become disillusioned enough to act with such an irrational behavior. It is
apparent that the war weighed greatly on his mind and that he never really
recovered from the effects of being involved with it. The message “Anywhere
but Arlington” that Dell found after finding his body is a good indicator of
Exploring this topic a little farther I found a website
http://www.nurseadvocate.org/vaw.html called The Nurse Advocate which had a
few articles addressing this topic. One is called “The War at Home: The
Military’s Problem with Spouse Abuse” and another was from the Department of
Defense on “Spousal Abuse in the Military Family: Stop the Violence”. The
later was a speech given that was part of a forum to address, stop, and help
prevent this abuse found in the military and to help reduce the stresses
that may trigger these incidents. One of these issues addressed was the
stress involved in moving---their support to help make the transition easier
for getting use to new surroundings, finding new schools, etc.
Another issue that is emphasized in this book is on relationships. First
there is the relationship between Nolan and his father. Nolan has always
kind of lived in his father’s shadow and we see him breaking free of his
routine life after he is fired from his dad. He becomes free to pursue any
new interests he might have (if he could ever decipher if he had any) and
can start to really examine his life. Nolan once commented that “maybe some
of us are born more like that, born with something we can’t ever get rid of,
some basic knowledge that right away makes us who we are.” I don’t think
that Nolan has ever gotten to this point of knowing who he is or what he
wants to do because of the fact his life was kind of laid out for him when
he went to work for his father. Now that he is exploring other options I
think we will see him develop more into his own self and become more of a
whole person. I think the conversation between him and the hardware store
man also may have been written to kind of foreshadow or reinforce that we
will keep seeing Nolan develop.
I also think we will see an improvement in the communication between him
and his father. As of now there is a break in communication coming from
both their sides. Nolan, for example, is not quite sure where their
relationship stands after being fired and really does not even know how to
act toward his father. His father on the other hand, seems to always be off
in another world which makes communication with him nearly impossible.
Information seems to go straight through one of Jim’s ear and out the other
(like when they were talking at the diner) and he doesn’t seem to be able to
relate to anyone unless he is in “salesman” mode. Their conversation with
Morgan and Tump also really showed that Jim still seems to have a lot of
feelings from the war that he has suppressed and that have really taken a
toll on him (it has made me more closed off).
The book also touches on communication in a marriage. The marriage I’m
obviously referring to is Nolan and Laney’s. They have no communication
left in their marriage as of now but I think the farther we read we will see
some resolution to this. I see this happening just from observing Nolan’s
attitude. He made a comment about not even beginning to guess whether Steve
and Laney would be happy together which led me to believe there was no fight
left in him to save his marriage but I wouldn’t be surprised if it would
turn out the opposite either.
I see this book written as a battle itself for Nolan to take a stand in
his own life. We go into the book observing that Nolan really isn’t doing
anything with his life, he’s not really going anywhere, doing anything, and
that he is taking no action to try to repair important relationships such as
with his wife and father. The farther we get farther into the book though,
we can notice more subtle things that happen which help Nolan in making more
realizations and will, I think, encourage him to make some major changes in
“When it comes to military history, its hard to commemorate something that didn’t happen. You can’t put a date on the plague.” (p58) These words were spoken about a bridge that was not destroyed during a war. It was a part of history, and perhaps even an interesting part, but it was not changed by the war. It stood from the beginning until the end, unchanged. Because it was not effected, it cannot be memorialized in the same way that the falling of a great fortress, or the defeat of a massive army from and oppressive state. These events can be seen in the narrow photo of a moment in time, and can be appreciated for the change that occurred so quickly and so decisively in those moments, but a bridge that stands from the beginning to the end can only be seen over the span of time. No one moment defines its value. This is so strongly paralleled in the minds of the veterans in War Memorials. Nolan’s father’s experience in World War II was decisive, formulative, and over in a moment. The moment can be commemorated with a medal honoring it very specifically in respect to date and time. Nolan’s father is the opposite of the bridge. He can be honored, but even in this ability, and reality, of his honor, his actions do not come without question. By kicking the bomb free, in a desperate act of need, he saved his crew, but he killed a woman and a child. His honor is a reminder both of a great act of courage, as well as a destructive act of violence. His award recounts the good, but the pain is just as much a reality to him. This seems it could be applied to all of the memorials we see. They recount and honor the greatness and courage of people, but there is no story that just easy. Every story has a sour taste tainting it to some. This taint is usually only known in a real way to those who were closest to the whole story, and it is much more long lasting than the moment that warrants the honor. We don’t se statues built to the pains and wrongs in our world, not only because these things are not pleasant to remember, but also because pain is much longer than a moment, and like a bridge that is still standing, you can find a specific date and time to bind up all of the questioning and pain suffered during war.
I really liked War Memorials, but it doesn't seem to have much to respond to so far. It describes the risks that people take in order to make some money for living, for example, Louis, who, in the fifth chapter gets struck by $25, i mean snake :). Nolan is trying to make his living by doing a reposession work, risking his life sometimes, like when him and Dell were about to enter Jerry Rathburn's place, not knowing if he was there or not (and he kind of was and at the same time wasn't).
I liked the second chapter the most, especially when Nolan's father talks about his twenty-first bombing run. He says:"I didn't see much of anything. I was up.....everything looks pretty much the same. It all just flattens out..." In some way Nolan gets the same kind of attention from his dad, hearing this story only now, and the only thing he knew before is the type of a plane that his dad had flown on. Nolan says that he didn't hear almost anything from him, and some from relatives. One reason for that, i think, is that his father killed 2 civilian people desperately trying to save his own life and lives of his friends on the plane. His story was kind of predictable, because when he mentioned those 2 people on the runway I guessed that they would be killed either by the bomb or by the plane itself. "Putting your lives on the goddamn line together and pulling each other through - that's what the military's all about" says Morgan. At the very end of this chapter Nolan says that "he seemed... to be a truly harmless man, and for the first time in a very long while, I didn't hate the sight of him". This shows how truth, which is sometimes hard to let other people know about, sort of reunites people and opens different kinds of relations.
In third chapter Nolan is being truthful to himself, saying "...watching me nervously, wishing me to pass them by, maybe even wishing me dead". He understands that his repo work does not make people happier (I mean regular people), it's all about money again (Hometown Finance profit).
Well, I guess that's all I have to say about this part of the book.
Hope to beat the submission time record, it's 4:05 in the morning now :)
Quote of the morning:
"Slow means officer material. 'Course he's not fat or stupid enough to make general."
The first connection I made wa between this book and the Movie "Rodger and
Me". we get to see a job very similar to Fred the Sheriff in this book. The
thing this does, is to give us a different perspective on what it means to
have work when a lot of other people don't (after all, his dad said there
where a lot of deadbeats in the town), but still not enjoy what you do. I
know it's not evicting people, but it's usually what comes right before the
I identify personally with this character's intrigue with his father's war
experience. My father fought in Vietnam, and earned a bronze star, and I
always wondered what he did to earn that star, so one day I asked him, and
he only told me one thing... "When I was done, the Radio Operator next to me
was covered in Blood."
I transfered the feeling I had at that moment directly to the incident
that was described in the book when he was talking about the little boy and
the hooker, it must have been a very similar feeling. That day and this
book, taught me a lesson, while it is important for vetrans to talk about
their experiences, but if they don't recognize that there's probably a
reason for that.
the above link is connected to a website which deals with helping persons
cope with PTSD (Post Traumatic Stress Disorder) after the Vietnam War. It's
a new proceedure which uses virtual reality to connect the person back to
Vietnam to help them "deal with the memory" so they can move on with their
War Memorials Response
Often, we are always asking ourselves if our lives seem “worth it.” What is it that makes one person’s life so much different than that of the next person? When it seems one has a life that is leading them nowhere especially in a setting that also seems like nowhere, the one becomes desperate and constantly searching for some feeling and satisfaction in a life that they assume has led them to nothing. Yet, that person may also just be leading a life that is not taking them places because they are not making the choices to do so. In the book War Memorials, the main character Nolan Vann is certainly someone whose life and pursuit of a life is like a puzzle that just keeps going on unsolved.
Honestly, I felt that what I have read so far had simply been utterly boring compared to the other books we’ve read and discussed. This book does not have the in-depth analysis of serious issues that The Missing Peace and The Color Purple had. I wouldn’t go so far as to proclaim it a funny novel, but it is certainly odd. I could almost feel how Nolan Vann feels about his job, town, and life just by the way it is presented and described in the story. There is no appeal. Nolan’s personal background does make for an interesting character, but that’s as far as he goes at being interesting. The characters that really bring out this story are the other townspeople and his interaction with them. I find Nolan as more of an observer of the lives around him. He can’t do much about his marriage, his job is terrible, and he just has his family history to hold onto. Hopefully he himself does something in the future that brings real sense and accomplishment to his personal issues that he can’t quite make sense of at the current time.
The article on this website speaks of war veterans recounting their experiences to students and that they rarely get treated as heroes anymore.