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The surface meaning of the poem is about a Vietnamese village boy's experience with the American troops during the conflict in his nation. There is an obvious clash of cultures within the battle between both nations. As both clash, they meet, in this poem, at a village where the Green Beret troops believe the boy knows where the opposing Viet Cong forces are hiding. In the attempt to extract information, they hold the boy's father as a hostage and threaten to kill him if the boy does not divulge information. The boy doesn't, the father is killed, and the Green Berets believe that they have killed unnecessarily as the boy cries. Yet, the second stanza of the poem reflects that the boy's cries might actually be a signal to the Viet Cong to escape and plan a counter strike against the American forces. The poem's tone is very informational in the first stanza, almost like a news report. When you reread look for hints that reflect this "reporter's" or "correspondent's" temperament. This is enhanced in the second stanza and you can search for words and verses that bring this out as well. The mood of the poem, like the conflict itself, is confusion and an ambiguity on what constitutes "right" and "wrong." Unlike wars that preceded it, the conflict in Vietnam was difficult to assess, even more challenging to identify where blame and culpability lie.
i was wondering, how do we tell that the poem is about a Vietnamese village boy's experience with the American troops during the conflict in his nation, just by looking at the passage? do we have to do extra research on the author?
since the author's name is vietnamese, we can kind of get an idea that the poem might be about vietnam. the green berets are actually the US Army Special Forces, which can be known from, yes research. it is quite obvious that the poem is about a war, seeing that there are soldiers, killngs and an attempt to get information from the boy. research really helps understand the poem better too
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