The Basic Training of Pavlo Hummel

by David Rabe

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The Play

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Last Updated on May 6, 2015, by eNotes Editorial. Word Count: 1086

The Basic Training of Pavlo Hummel opens in a Vietnamese bar. American pop music blares from the radio while Pavlo Hummel, a young soldier dressed in army fatigues and wearing sunglasses, boasts of his fighting ability and of his girlfriend Joanna back home. Yen, a prostitute, and her Mamasan watch as a grenade is tossed into the bar, and Pavlo picks it up just before it explodes onstage.

In the aftermath of the explosion, a black soldier named Ardell abruptly appears upstage and calls Hummel to attention, questioning him in military style about his identity and his feelings. The apparent reality of the Vietnamese bar is replaced by expressionist scenes from the Georgia boot camp where Hummel had received eight weeks of basic training. A group of trainees join Hummel and Ardell onstage; the set now exhibits a drill instructor’s tower manned by a black man, Sergeant Tower. Although he remembers catching the grenade and asks if he is dead, Hummel still runs to join the other trainees when he hears the sergeant call, plunging into his own past as the part of him that is Ardell (“You black on the inside”) observes and comments.

The language of boot camp, bellowed by Sergeant Tower and repeated by the trainees of Echo Company, ironically reflects the sexism and racism that have become basic to training military personnel in the United States. Hummel, however, is never quite in step. While the training scenes reveal the common Pavlovian programming suggested by his first name, the innocent peculiarity of Hummel (whose surname means “bumblebee”) is revealed in interspersed barracks scenes. The first of these finds him with fellow trainees Kress and Parker, who label Hummel as stupid and weird; they are not impressed with his attempts to appear streetwise by inventing stories of a criminal uncle and a past of car theft. While Hummel’s squad leader, Pierce, often intervenes in these scenes to restore order, he too informs Hummel, “you ain’t Regular Army.”

Hummel’s lies open him to accusations of theft in the next barracks scene; further harassment, especially by Kress, reveals that Hummel is also sexually innocent. When he is assigned to clean the dayroom, Hummel listens to war tales from a corporal with actual experience in Vietnam. He admires the reported ability of a Sarge Tinden to know intuitively when an apparently innocent old man and child are loaded with dynamite and must be shot on sight. This attitude is reinforced as the company shouts that the spirit of the bayonet is “TO KILL!”

The next barracks scene reveals that Kress has failed the proficiency test and will have to repeat basic training, and Hummel does not miss the opportunity to get even with his tormentor through a mocking speech. Their resulting fight is ended by Pierce, and Hummel then attempts suicide in his bunk by sniffing airplane glue and swallowing a bottle of aspirin. The scene freezes as Pierce once again comes to his aid, and act 1 ends as Ardell orchestrates a ritualistic costuming of Hummel in a clean uniform. Hummel is passively transformed, while Ardell’s monologue reveals the similarities between successful military training and other social programming (“doffin’ his red cap, sayin’, ’Yes, Massa’”) and confirms the loss of individuality in such uniformity (“That ain’t no Pavlo Hummel. Noooo, man. That somebody else”).

Act 2 opens with the same military background, complete with the tower and soldiers in formation, while Mickey, Hummel’s brother, appears downstage to represent the New York setting for Hummel’s trip home before Vietnam duty. Mickey echoes Kress and Parker as he accuses his brother of...

(This entire section contains 1086 words.)

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“doin’ that weird stuff again” and rejects the same lies, which Hummel has revised to fit his army experience. Their brief conversation before Mickey leaves on a date reveals that Pavlo does not know who his father is and that his girlfriend, Joanna, married while he was gone and is now pregnant. Upstage marching chants by Sergeant Tower and the recruits contrast the heroic soldier image with Hummel’s disappointing reality. His reunion with his mother fails to add any warmth; her monologue on another mother’s loss of her son in Vietnam foreshadows Hummel’s own doom, while her unwillingness to give Pavlo anything beyond a motion-picture image of a father robs him of any alternative to the army image of manhood.

In Vietnam, Hummel is assigned as a medic to the Twenty-third Field Hospital despite his preference for infantry. As the scene shifts, bar music and the entrance of Yen on one side of the stage announce a return to Vietnam while Hummel dons jungle fatigues. The bed of Brisbey, a soldier who has lost his limbs, except one arm, to a land mine, is rolled onto the other side of the stage to establish the hospital locale. Hummel is accosted from both sides: He is offered Yen’s sexual favors and begged by Brisbey to help him die. Meanwhile, the ubiquitous troops and Sergeant Tower pantomime a rifle drill.

When Hummel applies for a transfer to squad duty, the captain accuses him of wanting to be killed. As they talk, the audience watches the wounding of a young black soldier, who calls for a medic repeatedly until two Viet Cong soldiers kill him. As he binds the dead body to his back to carry it off, Hummel is also attacked and wounded. He survives, however, and when Sergeant Tower calls, Hummel ignores warnings by Ardell and returns to combat.

This time Hummel repeatedly shoots a Vietnamese farmer and is then hit himself. When he calls for help, Ardell tells him, “When you shot into his head, you hit into your own head, fool!” This incident makes Hummel remember an experience as a twelve-year-old when he almost drowned: “I was all confused, you see, fighting to get down, thinking it was up.”

Hummel, wounded three times, wants to go home. Instead, he is awarded a Purple Heart and sent back. Entering the bar, he finds Sergeant Wall seducing Yen and attacks him, again giving the speech which began the play. Thus, the time of memory is over; the deadly grenade is thrown by an angry Sergeant Wall. As Hummel dies, Ardell’s monologue informs the audience of the details of his funeral. Pavlo died with no words, but to Ardell he repeatedly cries “Shit!” and ends the play echoing the marching songs of Sergeant Tower: “Ain’t no matter what you do . . . Jody done it . . . all to you. . . .”

Dramatic Devices

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The Basic Training of Pavlo Hummel uses expressionist techniques to re-create the inner turmoil of Pavlo Hummel on the stage, while maintaining an almost naturalistic treatment of the Vietnam War through dialogue and character portrayal. One expressionist device is apparent in the symbolic names, such as Sergeant Tower, Sergeant Wall, the prostitute Yen, and Hummel himself. Thematically, naturalism is reflected in the physical motivations of sex and survival governing most of the characters; the settings, however suggestively staged, are also naturalistic. For example, at one point minimalist staging allows the reality of the Vietnamese bar to be suggested on one side of the stage and the field hospital on the other, while upstage center is dominated by the sergeant’s tower and soldier formations, which establish the ongoing influence of basic training on Hummel. Each scene is established by the characters associated with the place and by dialogue appropriate to their setting. Consequently, while the play actually takes place in Hummel’s mind—his life flashing past him as he dies—the audience is also graphically experiencing the realities of the war.

Contrasting with the realistic dialogue of these war experiences is the repetitive shouting by Sergeant Tower and others by which the basic tenets of the “regular army” image are expressed. Actual marching and training chants reveal the blatant racism and sexism with which Hummel learns to perceive the world. Traditional values are undermined when the violent potential of rifles and bayonets becomes linguistically sanctified as the spirit of the weapons; stupidity, too, is validated as the men sing, “IF I HAD A LOWER I.Q./ I COULD BE A SERGEANT TOO!”

The techniques of repeating and shouting orders are sometimes employed as well in the monologues of Ardell, the surrealistic projection of Hummel’s inner self, as he tries to penetrate that training and enable Pavlo to understand himself better. Ardell is not the only one who occasionally speaks in lengthy monologues; those of Pavlo himself and particularly those of Mrs. Hummel reveal the isolation of each character, their inability to communicate with others.

The creation of Ardell allows Hummel to continue a dramatic dialogue with himself, and the expansion of his dying moments allows him to trace his memories and try to discover what has brought him to his death. The fragmentation of place within the unifying abstraction of the United States Army allows him to make connections between home, army, and war front experiences. In other words, David Rabe has destroyed the Aristotelian unities of character, time, and place onstage so that he can make the stage a creation of Hummel’s memories.

Historical Context

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Decades of civil conflict in Vietnam paved the way for the entanglement of the United States in the war in Indochina. Soon after the end of World War II, the guerrilla forces which had resisted Japan in the north turned their energies against the colonial power of France, the current occupying force in Vietnam. The Democratic Republic of Vietnam was established in Hanoi with Ho Chi Minh as president. In My, 1954, after years of escalating military conflict, the French and Ho's communist forces signed an agreement calling for an armistice and the temporary division of the country with French authority consolidated around Saigon in the southern half of the country. In 1963, southern military leaders, with the support of the U.S., overthrew the government of Ngo Dinh Diem.

The new military government that took Diem's place was weak, however, and by late 1964, South Vietnam was in virtual chaos. The administration of US. President Lyndon Johnson, fearing a total collapse of the Saigon regime, began to deploy American combat forces in the South in the hopes that a display of U.S. might would dissuade the communists from attempting to conquer South Vietnam. Hanoi, however (with support from the Soviet Union, China, and other socialist countries), stepped up their military campaign against the government of South Vietnam. In early 1968 Hanoi launched the Tet Offensive, a major series of attacks throughout the South. Though communist casualties were high, the offensive was a tactical success in that it made clear the might and commitment of the guerilla army. The Tet Offensive also succeeded in increasing antiwar sentiment in the United States and persuading President Johnson to halt further escalation of U.S. troop levels in South Vietnam,

By 1971, the gradual U.S. withdrawal from Vietnam accelerated with President Richard Nixon's announcement that the offensive combat role of American troops was at an end. The number of American soldiers in Vietnam had peaked at 543,000 in April, 1969; by January, 1972, the number was down to 139,000, and dropping steadily. American troops were also increasingly less involved in direct combat; while American war deaths had peaked at 14,592 for the year 1968, this number dropped to 1,380 for 1971. The withdrawal was part of the U.S. government's strategy of "Vietnamization"—that is, to return the military initiative to the South Vietnam Army. U.S. involvement in the war continued to be significant, however, particularly in the continuing bombing campaigns against the North and in the use of modern high-tech weapons (five of every six helicopter missions flown during 1971, for example, were piloted by Americans).

In 1971, the South undertook an ambitious campaign in the neighboring country of Laos. For some time, the communist forces had used this region as a staging area for attacks against the South; the southern initiative was an attempt to destroy the North Vietnamese supply routes along the Ho Chi Minh trail. Southern forces achieved some early victories, but as the campaign pushed farmer into Laos it stalled U.S. involvement in the effort remained selective; a base at Khe Sanh, for instance, was reactivated in January, 1971, to support the attack on Laos but was evacuated on April 6 of that year, a symbol of continuing U.S. disentanglement from the Indochina war.

The complexities of Cold War diplomacy remained a factor throughout the war in Vietnam. With President Nixon indicating a change in American policy towards China (a "thawing" of U.S. relations with that communist government), the North Vietnamese began to fear the possibility of an Indochina deal being made behind their back. China, however, hastened to state publicly that there was no question of its seeking a deal with the United States.

The Soviet Union, meanwhile, surpassed the United States as the global superpower, self-confidently increasing its military strength and political influence throughout the world (for example, signing new treaties with Egypt and India). America's belief in its need or ability to fulfill a global military role had been declining since it first realized it was unlikely to win the Vietnam war. This, combined with continuing domestic problems, resulted in a snowballing loss of national willpower.

At home in the United States, meanwhile, 1971 was a year of both success and failure for the peace movement. Peace leaders stressed that despite the withdrawal of American troops, the geographic scope of the Vietnam struggle had enlarged. American casualties might be replaced by South Vietnamese ones, they argued, but this fact did not alter the inherent immorality of the war. Two hundred thousand demonstrators attended an anti-war rally at the Capitol in Washington, D.C., while 156,000 people gathered for a similar demonstration in San Francisco. Additional groups continued to join the anti-war coalition, but the movement remained divided over strategy, with a split between those who simply protested U.S. participation in Vietnam and mainline peace organizations with a more inclusively pacifist strategy.

American society was rocked in 1971 by the actions of Daniel Ellsberg, a Defense Department analyst and consultant who had gradually changed his mind about the war while witnessing the failure of the "pacification" program in the Vietnamese countryside. Ellsberg released to the press a collection of "Pentagon Papers" documenting the decisions which led the U.S. into the Vietnam quagmire. As a result, he was indicted by a federal grand jury for unauthorized possession of national documents and later for the more serious charges of theft of government property and conspiracy. Publication of the documents, and news coverage of Ellsberg's case, fueled further protest against American involvement in Vietnam.

Literary Style

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Realism and Expressionism While Pavlo Hummel struck audience members as a realistic portrayal of an American soldier's experience in Vietnam, this fact should not obscure the manner in which Rabe's play breaks from the form of theatrical realism. The interior dialogue between Ardell and Pavlo (continuing even after Pavlo's death) gives the play its psychological complexity, in a manner associated with expressionism (conversely, the psychology of characters in realism is revealed externally, through their actions) Rabe writes in his introduction to the play that it was primarily the influence of producer Joe Papp which caused him to refashion his essentially linear, realistic play during the course of rehearsal, giving it the expressionistic structure it was eventually to have (Rabe's career later moved more strongly toward realism).

Rabe has described in interviews his careful bridging of two styles, acknowledging that in Pavlo Hummel he "set up a framework in the play that wasn't realistic" but yet tried "to keep Pavlo as close to the facts... the graphicness of the events, as I could," (as he described his process in Vietnam, We've All Been There). Much of the realistic quality Pavlo Hummel does have is a reflection of Rabe's application of his own military experience onto the events and language of the play, Rabe's dramatic influences reflect his integration of varying theatrical styles: he calls Arthur Miller (author of Death of a Salesman, known for realistic plays on social issues) his favorite American playwright, but also acknowledges the influence of the Absurdist playwrights Eugene Lonesco (The Bald Prima Donna), Jean Genet (The Balcony), and Samuel Beckett (Waiting for Godot).

Plot Construction Ultimately, Rabe's play achieves thematic unity not through telling a linear story from beginning to end but through the complicated relationships which develop between scenes. Rather than simply building to Pavlo's death as a conclusion, the play stages the death twice, once at the very beginning and then repeated near the end. The audience thus knows Pavlo's death is inevitable and will watch the play-differently than they would if its plot depended more upon an element of suspense.

Writing of the relationship between scenes in the play. Critical Quarterly, Richard Homan called Rabe's technique 'collage'. through which, for example, the playwright "suggests the incompatibility of Pavlo's military way of life with his civilian life through the juxtaposition of scenes and speeches from both lives in simultaneous settings." Beidler. writing in American Literature and the Experience of Vietnam, similarly identified a quality of Rabe's dramatic style that he called "pastiche," and he believed more strongly than Homan in its effectiveness; Beidler found the play "inexhaustible," "a collection of master images."

Characterization Because the action of Pavlo Hummel does not unfold in a fully realistic or linear form, Rabe's characters are often seen as something other than real people. Homan commented that while effective, Rabe's collage' "allows only for personifications; character development and sustained dramatic conflict are impossible." Pavlo does have genuine complexity as a character, however, and many of Rabe's other portrayals—especially of the trainees and military characters like Sgt. Tower—are considered vivid and engaging. Edith Oliver was among the critics who found Rabe's characterizations to be a strength of his work, writing in the New Yorker, 'For all its factual background, the play is not a documentary but a work of the imagination, and its drama, scene by scene, lies in what it reveals about the characters, whatever their circumstances."

Theatrical Space Rabe's play makes use of multiple spaces on the stage with fluid changes between them and the interweaving and occasional overlapping of scenes. The sparse, abstract set design allows for rapid changes between scenes by merely suggesting different locales on different parts of the stage. The setting both facilitates the movement of scenes in Rabe's distinct dramatic structure and is itself an element of the play's expressionism. Dominating the sparse set, for example, is the drill sergeant's tower, which remains a pervasive image throughout the play (visible even during scenes set elsewhere than the boot camp).

Compare and Contrast

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1971: Reintegradon into American society proves a difficult process for many Vietnam veterans. Denied the kind of celebration which marked the end of World War n, many American soldiers return from Vietnam with a great deal of shame, finding they have been rejected by their society. Many people who do not support U.S. involvement in Vietnam blame the soldiers who fought there for the tragedy of the war.

Today: While Vietnam veterans continue to struggle with such legacies of the war as unemployment, homelessness, and mental illness, Americans have more widely addressed the need to welcome vets back into the fold of society. A national monument erected in Washington, D.C., along with numerous parades and other events, have publicly acknowledged the sacrifice of American soldiers in Vietnam.

1971: Vietnam is the first "televised war," and the first in which the press operates practically free of external restraints. Television makes Vietnam more vivid to the American public—it is dubbed "the living room war"—with the result that it serves to fuel the growing opposition to the war.

Today: War, along with seemingly every other aspect of human existence, is ever-more rigorously documented by television and the other media. The Cable News Network (CNN) sets new standards with their close coverage of the war in the Persian Gulf. Americans are thrilled by images of missile attacks and other high-tech military gadgetry; the media coverage fosters American public support for the war.

1971: The Vietnam war remains for the most part unaddressed in American literature, drama, and film, the topic is widely considered, as Barbara Hurrell wrote, "box office poison."

Today: Works like Rabe's Pavlo Hummel have created an opportunity for other writers and artists to address the war seriously and insightfully. A much wider body of art concerning the American experience in Vietnam has come into being in the last twenty-five years. Some of these works—like the films The Deer Hunter, Coming Home, Apocalypse Now, and Platoon—are widely considered American classics.

1971: Defense Department analyst Daniel Ells-berg releases the "Pentagon Papers" to the press, documenting the decisions which led the U.S. into the Vietnam quagmire. The publication of these secret papers fuels further protest against American involvement in Vietnam.

Today: While support for the U S. military has not necessarily decreased, a larger portion of the American people believe in their right to know more about the actions of their government.

Media Adaptations

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There are no media adaptations of The Basic Training of Pavlo Hummel available. Rabe' s two other well-known Vietnam plays, however, have been adapted Sticks and Bones was produced for CBS in 1972, although the network withdrew support for the play and left the choice of whether to air it or not to their affiliates. Streamers was made into a film in 1983, directed by Robert Altaian.

Bibliography and Further Reading

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Sources Barnes, Chve. Review of Pavlo Hummel in the New York Times, May 21,1971, p 25. ,

Berkvist, Robert "If You Kill Somebody ..." in the New York Times, December 12,1971, sec. 2, p 3.

Clurman, Harold. Review of Pavlo Hummel in the Nation, Vol. 212, June 7,1971, p. 733.

Geis, Deborah. '"Fighting to Get Down, Thinking It Was Up' A Narratological Reading of The Basic Training of Pavlo Hummel" in David Rabe- A Casebook, edited by Toby Silverman Zinman, Garland (New York), 1991, pp. 71-83.

Hewes, Henry. "Taps for Lenny Bruce" in the Saturday Review, July 10,1971, p 36.

Homan, Richard L "American Playwrights in the 1970s Rabe and Shepard" in Critical Quarterly, Vol 24, no. 1, 1982, pp 73-82.

Hughes, Catharine Plays, Politics, and Polemics, Drama Book Specialists (New York), 1973.

Judson, Horace. "Rags of Honor" in Time, April 24, 1972, p. 66.

Kauffmann, Stanley "Sunshine Boys" in the New Republic, May 26,1973, p 22.

Kerr, Walter. "He Wonders Who He Is—So Do We" m the New York Times, May 30,1971, sec. 2, p. 3.

Kroll, Jack "This is the Army" in Newsweek, June 14, 1971, p 70.

Marranca, Bonnie "David Rabe's Vietnam Trilogy" in Canadian Theatre Review, Vol. 14,1977, pp. 86-92.

Michener, Charles "The Experience Thing" in Newsweek, December 20, 1971, p 58.

Oliver, Edith. Review of Pavlo Hummel in the New Yorker, May 29,1971, p. 55.

Oppenheimer, George. "Stage Salute to Pavlo" in Newsday, May 21,1971, p 41.

Patterson, James A "David Rabe" in the Dictionary of Literary Biography Volume 7. Twentieth-Century American Dramatists, edited by John MacNicholas, two parts, Gale (Detroit), 1981, pp 172-78.

Rabe, David Introduction to Two Plays: The Basic Training of Pavlo Hummel and Sticks and Bones,Yikug (New York), 1973, pp IX-XXV.

Schroeder, Eric. Vietnam, We've All Been There: Interviews with American Writers, Praeger (Westport, CT), 1992.

Silver, Lee. "Pavlo Hummel Opens at the Public/Newman" in the New York Daily News, May 21,1971, p. 64.

Simon, John. Uneasy Stages; A Chronicle of the New York Theatre, 1963-73, Random House, 1975.

"Talk of the Town. Rabe'' in the New Yorker, November 20, 1971, pp. 48-49.

Watts, Richard "An Innocent in Vietnam'' in the New York Post, May 21,1971, p 31.

Werner, Craig "Primal Screams and Nonsense Rhymes: David Rabe's Revolt'' in Educational Theatre Journal, Vol. 30,1978, pp 517-29.

Further Reading Asahina, Robert. "The Basic Training of American Playwrights Theater and the Vietnam War" in Theatre, Vol 9, no 2, Spring, 1978, pp. 30-47. This article places Rabe's "Vietnam Trilogy" m the context of other dramatic works concerning Vietnam Asahina feels that journalism controlled the public perception of the war and that dramatists of the era tended either to ignore it or to write strictly polemical plays against it He examines how Rabe's "Vietnam Trilogy" broke with this pattern and dealt with the war in more complex, artistic terms.

Beidler, Philip D. American Literature and the Experience of Vietnam, University of Georgia Press (Athens), 1982 Beidler states his study is "about the literary ways in which people have tried to talk about an experience called Vietnam '' Like other historians and critics, Beidler's interest m the Vietnam War includes its deep effects upon American culture at home, speaking of the soldiers who served there he says, "Ineluctably theirs, the experience of Vietnam would have to become ours " Finding that in Rabe's "trilogy" of Vietnam plays, "the principle of the war at home evolved into a central thematic issue,'' Beidler calls Rabe's first two plays "the most important contributions to the dramatic literature of Vietnam during the period 1970-75."

Contemporary Literary Criticism, Gale, Vol. 4, 1975, Volume 8,1978, Volume 33,1985 This resource compiles selections of criticism, it is an excellent beginning point for a research paper about Rabe. The selections in these three volumes cover much of Rabe's playwriting career with material on Pavlo Hummel contained in each of them.

Gilman, Owen W, Jr, Editor America Rediscovered Critical Essays on Literature and Film of the Vietnam War, Garland (New York), 1990 The essays in this collection, rather than focusing on individual authors, treat in depth a specific topic concerning literature and film of Vietnam. The essays include J T Hansen's "The Helicopter and the Punji Stick- Central Symbols of the Vietnam War," Marilyn Durham's "A Dual Perspective First-Person Narrative in Vietnam Film and Drama," and David J. DeRose's "Vietnam and Sexual Violence The Movie''

Hurrell, Barbara. "American Self-image in David Rabe's Vietnam Trilogy" in the Journal of American Culture, Vol. 4,1981, pp 95-107. Hurrell stresses the importance of Rabe's early work in bringing the Vietnam war home to American audiences, making the subject of the war a legitimate one for writers and artists. She highlights the transformational role of Rabe's own Vietnam experience, for while his upbringing in Iowa "shaped Rabe's basic images of America, his experience m Vietnam added the other ingredients necessary to fuel the creative force behind the Vietnam plays he later produced " Hurrell finds m all three of Rabe's Vietnam plays "exposition of the gulf between the self and the other as represented in the Vietnam conflict"

Kolin, Philip C. David Rabe - A Stage History and a Primary and Secondary Bibliography, Garland (New York), 1988 This minutely detailed resource contains a biography of Rabe and a stage history of his plays. It also lists more than 1300 writings by and about Rabe, with evaluative annotations of many of them The stage history of Pavlo Hummel is discussed on pp. 43-51.

Zmman, Toby Silverman, Editor. David Rabe A Casebook, Garland (New York), 1991. Contains a 1990 interview with Rabe and numerous other sources, including Deborah Geis's article '"Fighting to Get Down, Thinking It Was Up' A Narratological Reading of The Basic Training of Pavlo Hummel."

Other Sources on the Vietnam War Hundreds of book-length studies have been written about various aspects of America's involvement in the Vietnam War General studies include Maurice Isserman's The Vietnam War (Facts on File, 1992), John Devaney's The Vietnam War (F. Watts, 1992), Ray Bonds's The Vietnam War The Illustrated History of the Conflict in Southeast Asia (Crown, 1983), and Kathlyn Gay's Vietnam War (Twenty-First Century Books, 1996) Many books focus on the perspectives of individual soldiers who served m Vietnam, such as Kim Wilenson's The Bad War An Oral History of the Vietnam War (American Library, 1987), Al Santoh's Everything We Had. An Oral History of the Vietnam War, by Thirty-Three American Soldiers Who Fought It (Random House, 1981), and Kathryn Marshall's In the Combat Zone- Vivid Personal Recollections of the Vietnam War from the Women Who Served There (Penguin, 1988) Many of the book studies, like Rabe's Sticks and Bones, focus on the pain many American soldiers experienced during readjustment to home life, these include Steve Tnmm's Walking Wounded: Men's Lives during and since the Vietnam War (Ablex, 1993) and Richard Severn's The Wages of War: When America's Soldiers Came Home, from Valley Forge to Vietnam (Simon & Schuster, 1989) Other specialized studies include Daniel C. Halhn's The "Uncensored War" The Media and Vietnam (Oxford University Press, 1986), Andrew Martin's Receptions of War Vietnam in American Culture (University of Oklahoma Press, 1993), and Wallace Terry's Bloods- An Oral History of the Vietnam War, by Black Veterans (Random House, 1984) In 1985, an international team of journalists and media professionals produced Vietnam, a Television History, a thirteen-part documentary on America's involvement in Vietnam It is widely available in libraries.


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Sources for Further Study

Asahina, Robert. “The Basic Training of American Playwrights: Theater and the Vietnam War.” Theater 9 (Spring, 1978): 30-37.

Biedler, Philip D. “In the Middle Range, 1970-1975.” In American Literature and the Experience of Vietnam. Athens: University of Georgia Press, 1982.

Herman, William. “When the Battle’s Lost and Won: David Rabe.” In Understanding Contemporary American Drama. Columbia: University of South Carolina Press, 1987.

Hertzbach, Janet S. “The Plays of David Rabe: A World of Streamers.” In Essays on Contemporary American Drama, edited by Hedwig Bock and Albert Wertheim. Munich: M. Hueber, 1981.

Marranca, Bonnie. “David Rabe’s Vietnam Trilogy.” Canadian Theatre Review 14 (1977): 86-92.

Phillips, Jerrold A. “Descent into the Abyss: The Plays of David Rabe.” West Virginia University Philological Papers 25 (February, 1979): 108-117.

Savran, David. “David Rabe.” In In Their Own Words: Contemporary American Playwrights. New York: Theatre Communications Group, 1988.

Simard, Rodney. “David Rabe: Subjective Realist.” In Postmodern Drama: Contemporary Playwrights in America and Britain. Lanham, Md.: University Press of America, 1984.


Critical Essays


Teaching Guide