Good Example Of Essay On Does Guilt Make You A Bad Soldier?

Type of paper: Essay

Topic: Veterans, Guilt, War, Life, Killing, Death, The Things They Carried, Regret

Pages: 3

Words: 825

Published: 2021/01/01

Guilt is a very dominant theme in O’Brien’s book. Most of the people who exhibit this sense of guilt are the soldiers who are just out of the Vietnam War. Soldiers undergo a lot of trials and tribulations when they are at way. Killing becomes a routine for them and it is a calling they have to perform with precision. Killing an enemy at war who attacks you probably is allowed because your safety and of those people you are with is at stake. Protecting them is an action soldiers undertake with ultimate care. In the line of fire innocent victims can be killed or maimed too. It is a result of such actions that some soldiers express regret upon returning from war or after combat. Soldiers often struggle with these emotions when they come home, and this is a feeling that they grapple with in their lives.
Guilt is a predominant theme in O’Brien’s book. From Bowker, who expresses regret and guilt about the death of his colleague Kiowa to O’Brien himself who struggles with guilt over some incidences. First, he notably regrets the death of a man he killed who he considered could have been harmless and who he later described as a gentle soul. He says that sometimes in his dreams he sees the man coming from fog towards him. The sense of guilt in him makes him so uncomfortable about what he did and he decides to talk about such incidences so that he can keep them off his chest. Considering that the man could have killed them, the step that he took would not be regarded as senseless or uncalled for because if he didn’t act the way he did maybe his life and of his fellow soldiers could have been in jeopardy. Soldiers resort to killing enemies in the frontline so that they can save lives and restores peace. Therefore, expressing guilt over killing someone no matter how timely and necessary it was should not make a bad soldier. It is only human to have this feeling because even if the person that the soldiers kill could have also killed them without any second thought.
Soldiers are meant to protect lives and restore peace. It is their ultimate calling to serve and protect in this capacity. One of the most essential tenets and philosophy of this profession is to safeguard your fellow soldiers. Killing one man who is almost hurling a grenade to a group of ten or more soldiers doesn’t necessarily need to elicit emotions of guilt. However, soldiers are human too; hence they must also undergo this feeling but it doesn’t make them bad soldiers but rather responsible men who are just doing the best they can to protect. Soldiers don’t express guilt for killing enemies only. They also express guilt by leaving their young girlfriends, wives and fiancés behind to go to war with the uncertainty of returning alive. Being not able to save their colleagues from dying also fills the soldiers with a sense of guilt. A good example of this scenario is when Bowker and other soldiers of his platoon express regret for not being able to save Kiowa from sinking in that shit field. The platoon commander himself, a one Jimmy Cross takes personal responsibility for the death of Kiowa by writing to his father about his demise.
As the other soldiers search for Kiowa’s body with deep regrets that they couldn’t save their comrade from the imminent death, Azar jokes at first about the incident with a view to bringing a lighter moment to that rather not so pleasant situation. Soldiers have been thought to use such ways in shaking of stress, guilt and blame that they experience when at war. In O’Brien’s book soldiers express guilt and blame over burning villages in Vietnam and the suffering of the innocent civilians who have been caught in the crossfire of war. Another incident that encompasses guilt includes when Bowker regrets not saving his friend’s live. It is the most disturbing event that trails him in his civilian life. With his best friend dead and his former girlfriend married, he finds it hard to cope with life after the war because he has nobody to talk to apart from his father. He regrets not being able to get a silver star because he did not save Kiowa irrespective of the fact that he has earned a considerable number of medals. All these feelings of guilt that the soldiers experience doesn’t make them bad soldiers. It only shows the necessary actions they had to undertake in order to save lives.
In as much as the soldiers blamed themselves for different shortcomings in the war, some of them are baseless and unfounded. For instance, Lieutenant Cross blames himself for the death of Lavender because he believed that he was shot because he was so engrossed in thoughts about Martha. He alleges that he was too busy thinking about Martha that he forgot to take care properly of his troops. All that happens in the battlefront is always carried in the memories of the soldiers. Shaking of the emotions of guilt helps them lead a productive and fruitful life as civilians. They are not entirely responsible for all the adversities and misfortunes that happen when they are at war and especially to their colleagues. They only had to do what was necessary and what is deemed right at that particular time. Therefore, guilt doesn’t make one a bad soldier but an expression of the shortcomings of war which should be shaken off by therapy or productive engagement that will make them live a normal life.

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WePapers. (2021, January, 01) Good Example Of Essay On Does Guilt Make You A Bad Soldier?. Retrieved June 15, 2024, from
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WePapers. 2021. "Good Example Of Essay On Does Guilt Make You A Bad Soldier?." Free Essay Examples - Retrieved June 15, 2024. (
"Good Example Of Essay On Does Guilt Make You A Bad Soldier?," Free Essay Examples -, 01-Jan-2021. [Online]. Available: [Accessed: 15-Jun-2024].
Good Example Of Essay On Does Guilt Make You A Bad Soldier?. Free Essay Examples - Published Jan 01, 2021. Accessed June 15, 2024.

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