In the chapter "On the Rainy River" in Tim O'Brien's "The Things They Carried," what does the pig plant symbolize?

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In "On the Rainy River," Tim O'Brien tells of a young man just out of college who receives a draft notice to serve in the Army. Although the narrator has the name of "O'Brien," it's a fictional character based upon the writer. Since the year is 1968, it's almost certain that he'll be sent off to fight in Vietnam. O'Brien makes it clear that he opposes the war, but he doesn't really know what to do about the draft notice.

During this period of confusion and uncertainty, O'Brien takes a job at a meat-packing plant for pork products. The pig plant symbolizes the violence with which he is confronted and the chaos of his life getting out of control. O'Brien writes:

In the evenings I'd sometimes borrow my father's car and drive aimlessly around town, feeling sorry for myself, thinking about the war and the pig factory and how my life seemed to be collapsing towards slaughter.

At the same time that he is going through the agonizing indecision about whether to enlist and go to war or run away to...

(The entire section contains 2 answers and 619 words.)

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