Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Metaphor & Symbol

Yet again, O'Brien changed focus and centered his next chapter around the character Henry Dobbins. I found it interesting how he opened the story with a metaphor that compared him to our country.
"In many ways he was like America itself, big and strong, full of good intentions, a roll of fat jiggling at his belly, slow of foot but always plodding along, always there when you needed him, a believer in the virtues of simplicity and directness and hard labor." (page 111)
Where exactly was Tim going with that when he compared Dobbins to America? Although I failed to see the point of his opening description, I enjoyed the chapter. I thought it was humorous how he had a strange fetish with his girlfriend's pantyhose. Weird maybe, but still humorous. He's definitely a guy I'm gonna remember because of that. Not to mention, he must be the luckiest guy in the world or his pantyhose must really be magical because he survived at least two incredibly close calls and always came out unscathed. I'd kill for luck like that!

Continuing on, the soldiers set up camp at a church pagoda for a week. Here I found it sort of interesting to hear some of the men talk about their religious views. Dobbins, for instance thought more highly of the monks than I would have guessed. There were also a few symbols that I figured had to be important to the monks helping the American soldiers. Since they did not have the ability to speak English, I got this idea due to their behavior and gestures.
"On the second day the older monk carried in a cane chair for the use of Lieutenant Jimmy Cross, placing it near the altar area, bowing and gesturing for him to sit down. The old monk seemed proud of the chair, and proud that such a man as Lieutenant Cross should be sitting in it." (page 114)
My conjecture is that the chair was probably something symbolic of power or influence in their faith and they felt honored to share it. Another symbolic gesture the monks kept repeating was a washing motion with their hands. I'm still not sure as to what that meant, but I'm getting the vibe that it was a peaceful one since they always did it in a courteous manner. Perhaps these gestures were like the sign of the cross in our faith.

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