Persuasive Essay

Essay by squirrelyosis August 2004

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Violence, Science and Ethics

Tim O'Brien's story entitled "The Man I Killed" takes place during the Vietnam War. This story is about 3 men that stop to search a body that one of the men named Tom just shot. The other men, Kiowa and Azar, want to keep moving on but Tom will not move or speak. He was overcome with the guilt of killing a man and starts to look at him as a person, "....the man I killed would have listened to sorties about the heroic Trung sisters and Tran Hung Dao's famous rout....." Tom relates this man to himself in that he doesn't want to be in this war, he just wants to be at home where he is safe. This thought totally separates Tom from the war going on around him. His fellow soldiers talk to him in order to get him out of this introspective state that he is stuck in.

Through his story Tim O'Brein displays an underlying point about the value of human life. In war there are so many deaths inflicted by our military that they are viewed as numbers. Each and every one of these people are actually human beings with lives and most with families, but all of them fighting to protect their country. Maybe not all of the soldiers agree with the mass killing of the enemy. Maybe the soldiers don't even agree with what they are fighting for. Tom says, "He would have been taught that to defend the land was a man's highest duty and highest privilege." To relate this dead man's situation to his own. Knowing that he didn't want to die in this war that he didn't even want to be a part of. O'Brien uses Tom's experience in the story to...