Rotating back to the world : an analysis of two Vietnam War memoirs

UNCW Author/Contributor (non-UNCW co-authors, if there are any, appear on document)
Stephanie N. Jones (Creator)
The University of North Carolina Wilmington (UNCW )
Web Site:
Cara Cilano

Abstract: This thesis is an exploration of two Vietnam War memoirs through an autobiographical lens. Tim O’Brien’s If I Die in a Combat Zone Box Me Up and Send Me Home and Tobias Wolff’s In Pharaoh’s Army: Memories of the Lost War are both narratives written by veteran/authors that lend themselves to the changing and new voice of all veteran authors. By re-visioning and exploring these texts as autobiographies the genre of war literature becomes available to all veterans and soldiers. This exploration does not try to qualify whether or not the stories of these two men are historically accurate, but instead examines the historical, narrated, and narrating “I.” In this way the text is available in terms of agency, authenticity, evidence, experience, and memory, among others. By using autobiographical theory as a means of analysis, the reading of the text moves away from traditional forms of “interpretation” to explore the texts in terms of the nonlinear, postmodern, and pioneering manner in which they were written. In foregrounding history, establishing facts and statistics, and limiting the discussion of political and moral right and wrong, the texts are significant for being the life narratives of Vietnam veterans. This thesis and these books are not generalizations of the war, but an emphasis of one man’s story in the hopes that it will inspire other men and women of the Vietnam era to write their own. It is also necessary to read these stories in terms of autobiography so that when the new veteran emerges from the conflicts in Afghanistan and Iraq they will have a model in which to follow and a voice that is not only similar to their own, but has forged the way.

Additional Information

A Thesis Submitted to the University of North Carolina Wilmington in Partial Fulfillment Of the Requirements for the Degree of Master of Arts
Language: English
Date: 2009
O'Brien Tim If I die in a combat zone box me up and send me home--Criticism and interpretation, Wolff Tobias 1945- In pharaoh' s army: memories of the lost war--Criticism and interpretation
O'Brien, Tim. If I die in a combat zone box me up and send me home -- Criticism and interpretation
Wolff, Tobias, 1945- In pharaoh' s army: memories of the lost war -- Criticism and interpretation

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