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things they carry


            Soldiers are expected to be heroes, to do everything right and fight honorably, win medals and come back home to tell everyone about it. They are expected to make the right decisions even though they personally don't want anything to do with the war, they are simply expected to rise to the occasion. Even if they do want to be there and don't mind making these decisions, how do they deal with the outcomes? How do these soldiers react to having to rise to the occasion? .
             When called upon, there are only two possible outcomes regardless of how much effort was put in to it. One, the person takes the opportunity and is successful in accomplishing their given task. The other possible result is failure, no if's and's or but's. It's the outcomes of these decisions that are important, how it may scar them or fill them with pride. People respond differently to having to rise to the occasion, but its how they deal with the outcome that's interesting, especially if they have failed. When the soldier makes the right decisions but gets the wrong outcome, it presents a dangerous problem because this may have severe consequences on the soldier. The soldier not being able to succeed can scar him psychologically, even though he is not to blame. These soldiers needlessly blame themselves and carry guilt.
             Some times these situations occur before they even enter the war, such as in Tim O"Brien's short story, "On the Rainy River". The story starts out with O"Brien saying, ". To go into it, I've always thought, would only cause embarrassment for all of us, [.] which is the natural response to a confession" (39). Tim O"Brien was just a young man when he was given the draft notice. He naturally tried to run away from this problem, which he rightfully did since he was a few months away from studying at Harvard University. He felt that he was "too good for this war, too smart, too compassionate, too everything" (41).


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