The implementation of asyndeton and polysyndeton illuminates the fear-fueled despair and paranoia that plagues someone in the time of war. Beginning with a repetitious list, O’Brien’s focus on war is that it is a mental battle as much as it is a physical battle. It perpetually tests one’s mental dexterity by throwing curveballs at every corner and constantly forcing one to be on their toes. Leaving out the conjunctions, Due to the degenerative nature of war, one often falls to the powers of paranoia and despair as they combat the fear of death on the front lines.
This paranoia is first seen within the text on page 6, ithout conjunction, as O’Brien delves into all that Ted Lavender carries in war by stating, “The typical load as 25 rounds. But Ted Lavender, who was scared, carried 34 rounds when he was shot and killed outside of Than Khe, and he went down under an exceptional burden, more than 20 pounds of ammunition, plus the flak jacket and helmet and rations and water and toilet paper and tranquilizer and all the rest, plus unweighted fear. “(6) As seen in the repetitious list, Ted Lavender was a man not fit for battle.
His overly precausous and paranoid nature, illuminated through repetition, allowed for his fear take hold of his good judgement. This fatal flaw fused with conjunctions ultimately sparked his deterioration as mind games of war compounded by the crushing weight of the things he carried were too much for Lavender’s feeble frame. In the end, like most battles with war, war won and no amount a dope or paranoia could have prevented Ted’s death for war is unpredictable and preparation is useless when combatting the unknown.
The beauty of asyndetons and polysyndetons are that they relentlessly attack one’s paranoia from all angles in war. They do not care who the individual is or even how nice they might be as they expose every irrational fear they might arry or hold locked up inside. As seen after Lee Strunk returned from his broken nose, paranoia tears away at Jensen’s sanity as he attempts to combat the wrongs that he has committed, “Even in times of relative safety, while the rest of us took it easy, Jensen would be sitting with his back against a stone wall, weapon across his knees, watching Lee Strunk with quick, nervous eyes. (60) Through the absence of conjunctions, war creates irrational behavior in individuals during combat as they are constantly stuck in a pessimistic mindset.
In all actuality, Strunk would have never harm a fellow soldier in his platoon for asic human nature and common sense would advise him otherwise. To a man plagued by the affects of war, everyone and everything is not predictable for all is alive on the front lines. The ground, the trees, the grasses, the buildings, the wind, all are alive and all are melodically whispering in the wind as one lays down their head at night or stumbles through the jungle.
As one attempts to mute the rhythm of life they mentally snap, sparking an instinctual action in attempts to right the wrongs and drown out war’s painful yet sweet tune. This concept is emphasized through Jensen’s irrational action of istol whipping his nose until he hears a cartilaginous snap and the warm sensation of blood runs down his face. Repetitional rhetoric not only illuminates the irrational fear one holds in war but also, through the implementation of a fusion of polysyndeton and asyndeton, unearths idiotic actions one may commit when being tested by the unexplainable.
War is not all fact, you can’t explain everything that occurs in war for war is an enigmatic, omnipresent entity. Those that attempt to combat it with rational and truth end up getting devoured by its mysterious nature and deteriorated until nothing is left of the once vibrant individual. Through complex repetition, O’Brien exhibits this demise of individuals attempting to explain war as they are left clinging to the little sanity that they still have left. “The whole country. Vietnam. The place talks… The guys can’t cope with it.
They lose it. They call in an airstrike.. They blow away trees and glee clubs and whatever else there is to blow away. They bring in the Cobras and F-4s, they use Willie Peter and HE and incendiaries. It’s all fire. ” Society’s Achilles heel is its inability to accept the unexplainable. Anything that cannot be explained leaves mankind baffled and left feeling a sensation of mptiness that they yearn to fill for the void left by the lack of truth or fact is too painful to bare. Through the application of conjugations, O?
Brien accentuates the drastic measures mankind turns to when faced with the unknown by emphasizing the paranoia and fear society hold deep within their mortal selves. Mankind does not run from the unknown but instead looks to all the ways of conquering it by attacking the inexplainable with knowledge, fact, and logic. When those time tested methods fail people feel vulnerable and this vulnerability is what triggers them to resort to barbaric measures such as just estroying all that cannot be explain.
This uncivilized behavior is looked down upon in this day and age as an act of an inferior being but for those tormented by war, paranoia can push one to dangerous means in order for them to keep some reminisce of sanity. War changes people for the good and for the bad. Some try to combat this change and remain immune to the affects while others embrace the change and let it take hold of themselves mentally and phyiscally. Either way, war corrupts an individual like venom seeping into their bloodstream. For some it is quick and potent and for others it is slow and painful yet at he end of the day everyone is left unrecognizeable.
O’Brien recognizes the spiritual metamorphosis that one experiences in the times of war and through the absence of conjunctions he highlights the deterioration of one’s psyche as paranoia and strife steadily chip away at the moral fabric that composes one’s mind. Through the implementation of a repetitious list, O? Brien particularly highlights the mental demise of soldier Mark Fossie as his inability to come to terms with the reality that his high school sweetheart has been taken by Vietnam cripples his mind. “He squatted down, rocking on his heels, still clutching the lashlight. (95)
The employment of repetition helps accentuate the truly debilitate state Mark is in. He can barely function as he is left stuck in the flight response, swaying back and forth on his heels like a metronome keeping a constant pace to the beat of devastation. He cannot cope with the truth and ultimately he never will for when the truth so preposterous, so implausible, how can one expect him not to just be stuck in a state of sheer astonishment and devastation as his sweetheart runs off with Vietnam. Exposed through the omission of conjunction, O’Brien truly desires the reader to witness war consume a man like a icious plague.
At first it lays dormant within the soldier, unbenounced to them and the rest of the world. Then, a single event triggers a chain reaction that begins to chip away at the mental stability of Mark as slivers of paranoia and strife begin to work their way into his psyche. Ultimately, Mark’s death stagnantly ensues, leaving him as a deteriorated husk of his former self as he is left questioning reality and what is truth and what is fiction. Though he may never get the answer he is looking for, the truth is there is no truth or fiction with war, it just is what it is, war.