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In The Things They Carried, we learn the narrator’s opinion on the war in the chapter entitled, “On a Rainy River”. Here we see, a young O’Brien contemplating leaving his home behind and heading for Canada in order to avoid the draft. He goes to live in a cabin up near the Canadian border and can easily cross if he chooses. He had been shocked to receive his draft notice. Up until this point in the war, students were exempt. But now, that was no longer the case. But why does he wish to escape? The narrator reveals that he is opposed to the war mainly because he doesn’t understand it. It’s not that he is morally opposed to fighting in this war; rather he does not know how or why he should fight a war he doesn’t even understand. He knows nothing about what happened to the USS Maddox in Gulf of Tonkin. This is what gave President Lyndon B. Johnson the authority to assist Southeast Asia (Wikipedia). The narrator states that he knows nothing about Ho Chi Minh, the president of North Vietnam. How can he fight? How can he take is stand? As an educated man, he also admits another reason he feels as though he cannot fight. He simply believed that he was too good for the war. Of course, a draft does not take that into consideration. Later, the narrator (O’Brien) returns home and heads to Vietnam. He does so not because he is brave, but because he is too embarrassed not to go.
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