What is the role of shame and fear in the lives of the soldiers?
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-Soldiers fear being ashamed, it gives them courage
-Fine line between heroic and stupid
– The week he spent with Elroy Beerdal, fear of shame, courage
The roles of shame and fear play a large part in the soldier’s lives. If it wasn’t for the fact that the soldiers were so afraid of being ashamed they may have never performed some of the courageous acts they did. They’re fears of how others perceived them and how they did not want to be looked upon as cowards drove them to acts of heroism and stupidity.
At the beginning of the book O’Brien is faced with a difficult question should he go to war and possibly face death, or burn his draft card and hide out in Canada? O’Brien packs his bags and prepares to hide out. He stays with an old man in Minnesota, across the river from Canada, many times he contemplates stealing a boat and paddling across, however he doesn’t. One day the old man takes him fishing in Canada, he has the choice to jump out of the boat and swim away, or go back and go to war, he goes to war.
O’Brien says he was not brave for going to war; he was a coward for not dodging the draft. The day when Elroy brings him out on the boat O’Brien know what he should do, but then he thinks of his friends, his family, and all the men dying for they’re country. He thinks about what they would think about him, he knows that they would think he is a coward, and he is afraid of that. He would rather die at war and be viewed as a hero, than live in Canada and be viewed as a coward.
The smart thing for O’Brien to do would have been to live in Canada, but sometimes the fear of shame drives people to do things they wouldn’t normally do. The role of fear and shame, not only play an important part in the lives of soldiers, it also plays an important part in the lives of everyday people. The fears that people carry about how others perceive them can drive people to do courageous and sometimes stupid things to save they’re good name.