Contrary to her father and her uncle, Sam has not directly experienced the Vietnam War. Throughout the novel this is a major source of frustration for her in her attempt to understand what has really happened in the war. She even gets to the point of spending an entire night alone at Cawood Point, a swampy area, in an effort to recreate a Vietnamese locale. Yet, what she realizes at the end of the novel, during her visit to the Memorial, is that she too, like all the rest of America, has been affected by the war. Although she hasn't fought the war directly, she too is a casualty of war and her life has been deeply affected by it: her father was killed in the conflict and her uncle is still strongly traumatized by it. The war has become an obsession for her and has started to influence her life until her travel to the Memorial and the realization that "all the names in America have been used to decorate this wall".