'Conradian Echoes in Vietnam War Literature: Tim O'Brien's Rewriting of Heart of Darkness in "Sweetheart of the Song Tra Bong'". Symbiosis, 11.1 (April 2007) 3-30.

Author: Ciocia, Stefania


Humanities-Ebooks ‘Reprint’, 2009 31 pages, 363 kb secure PDF Permissions: printing allowed, copying disabled

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This essay was originally published in Symbiosis: A Journal of Anglo-American Literary Relations, Volume 11.1 (April 2007) pp. 3-30.

Essay Topics and Keywords


Joseph Conrad's Heart of Darkness; the Vietnam war; “˜Sweetheart of the Song Tra Bong”, one of the chapters in Tim O”Brien's The Things They Carried (1990).

An extract from this essay

“The fundamental analogy between O'Brien's story and Heart of Darkness has been noted before on several occasions but, to my knowledge, nowhere has it been explored in depth. This essay means to do just so in a close comparative analysis of the two texts, Conrad's and O'Brien's investigations into the alienating effect of the western colonial enterprise and the (neo-colonial) American war in Vietnam respectively. As we will see, “Sweetheart” plays a provocative variation, through its female protagonist, on the typical theoretical and literary approach to the phenomenon of American soldiers “˜going native” during the conflict. The crumbling of moral certainties and cultural (and gender!) differences in O”Brien's acknowledgement that even “civilized” Americans “feel the pull of barbarity and of the untamed Vietnamese natural environment “ unfolds in neat parallelism with the anti-colonial thesis of the Conradian model. “

About the author

Affiliation: Canterbury Christ Church University

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