Help with Questions to The Things They Carried: Sweetheart of the Song Tra Bong (pages 89-116)
Sweetheart of the Song Tra Bong (pages 89-116)
1. What is the Song Tra Bong?
2. The majority of the setting of this story takes place on an outpost set up as an aid station mostly for wounded soldiers. Rat was a medic at this outpost and he felt this was the ideal duty. He felt at peace and often forgot he was in the middle of Vietnam in one of the world’s worst wars in history. Explain what type of activities would occur on a daily basis that would cause Rat to be able to escape the war for a while.
3. One evening Eddie Diamond made a comment, which was supposed to be a joke, however one of the men took him seriously. Who took him seriously and what happened 6 weeks later as a result?
4. When Mary Anne first arrived to the out post, what was her initial feelings towards the war and the land. How did Mary Anne feel about the jobs at the outpost that the men performed?
5. Within the first two weeks, Mary Anne is changed both physically and mentally by her experiences in Vietnam.
Provide examples from Rat’s story that prove this. At what point in this story can we assume Mark Fossie has lost his Mary Anne for good?
6. Mary Anne’s final transformation occurs after she aligns herself with the Green Berets. What information are
we told about the Green Berets responsibilities in Vietnam? Why do you think this is such a secret group? Describe the scene at the Greenie’s headquarters that Mark Fossie, Eddie Diamond, and Rat walk into when they were looking for Mary Anne.
7. As Mark Fossie stares at the girl he once loved and wanted to marry with human tongues now hanging around her neck, he was shocked. Mary Anne’s response to Mark is “it’s not bad.” Explain how you think she could possibly feel this way.
8. In “Sweetheart of the Song Tra Bong,” what transforms Mary Anne into a predatory killer? Does it matter that Mary Anne is a woman? How so? What does the story tell us about the nature of the Vietnam War?
9. Rat insists that the story he tells the men in Alpha Company about Mary Anne is true. Think about O’Brien’s criteria for finding the truth in war stories. Do you believe it? Does it fit O’Brien’s criteria for a true war story? Explain how it does fit or how it does not fit?
10. What eventually became of Mary Anne?