Why doesn't O'Brien not let the reader know the outcome of "The Ghost Soldiers"?Why doesn't O'Brien not let the reader know the outcome of "The Ghost Soldiers"?

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accessteacher's profile pic

accessteacher | High School Teacher | (Level 3) Distinguished Educator

Posted on

Which "outcome" are you refering to in this story? Actually, in one sense, the way in which the feud between the protagonist and Jorgenson is resolved with their new-found friendship based on their forgiveness of each other is an outcome, if you want to look at it in this way. At the same time, however, the story ends with both of them planning to "kill" Azar leaves us with an unexpected and somewhat disturbing ending that makes us unsure of what will happen next, and how the madness of warfare that is depicted in this story will spill out and impact Azar, just as it has impacted Jorgenson. We are left with an impression of soldiers who are under such psychological pressure themselves and given such responsibility and power that they are easily able to abuse this power by settling grudges and feuds in violent and psychological damaging ways. The war, as in all of O'Brien's fiction, provides a psychologically terrifying backdrop that brings to light feelings within us that we wold rather keep secret, and most importantly, it provides the soldiers with a means to express those feelings. Not detailing how Jorgenson and the narrator are going to get their revenge makes us suspect the worst.

mixnelson's profile pic

mixnelson | Student, Undergraduate | eNotes Newbie

Posted on

At the end of the Chapter, when Jorgenson and the protagonist are talking about killing Azar it was more ment as a joke. Pulling Jorgenson's leg if you will, or possibly the protagonist is just trying to take the blame off of himself.

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