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Last Updated on July 29, 2019, by eNotes Editorial. Word Count: 201

Donald Barthelme does not provide extensive backgrounds for the characters in his story. Choose two characters from the story and create past and future lives for them. Where are they from? What kind of education do they have? What kinds of jobs did they hold before the battle? What are...

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Donald Barthelme does not provide extensive backgrounds for the characters in his story. Choose two characters from the story and create past and future lives for them. Where are they from? What kind of education do they have? What kinds of jobs did they hold before the battle? What are their families like? What will happen to them after the battle is over?

Critics have considered whether the Vietnam War, the antiwar protests, and the history and legends of America’s West might have influenced Barthelme’s writing of this story. Research the history of one of these events or periods and write a brief persuasive essay on whether it contributed to the story, supporting your argument with examples.

There are two scenes of torture in the story. Investigate which countries are believed to use torture to interrogate prisoners and what international organizations, such as the United Nations, have to say about what constitutes torture.

Some critics have argued that Barthelme’s story is about the tensions between men and women and their struggles to maintain successful relationships with each other. Investigate the most recent psychological findings and theories on male-female relationships, and present them in a short essay with references.

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