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Innocence

In the chapter, Sweetheart of the Song Tra Bong, Rat Kiley tells a story about a girl names Mary Ann who comes to camp with her boyfriend, Fossie earlier in the war. This was by far my favorite chapter in the entire book. O'Brien writes this chapter as he hears Rat describing it. Rat swears the story is true. The story talks about Mary Ann and how she showed up, in a mini skirt and looking fresh, young and innocent. Throughout the story, Mary Ann starts drifting; her innocence becomes lost in the war. She is forced to grow up in a matter of days. The story Rat tells focuses mostly on how Mary Ann gets lost in Vietnam and her innocence becomes shattered, but behind all of that, it exposes how the war took away all of the soldier’s innocence as well. She gets lost in Vietnam, literally, but in a way, all the soldiers do too. O’Brien emphasizes this point even further when he takes his daughter back to Vietnam to the feces camp where he strips and takes a swim to where Kiowa died. When someone is faced with that sort of tragedy day by day, it takes a toll on the mind. I don’t think that any soldier ever comes back with their innocence in tact or even as the same person they were before. Those memories become forever engrained in their heads and just as Mary Ann was lost in Vietnam, the soldiers are lost too.