Tim O’ Brien establishes the style of identity in The Sweetheart of Song Tra Bong. He uses the character of Mary Anne in order to bring about this theme. In Milan Kundera’ s Identity, the style includes a character losing her identity and discovering it in the future in the story. But in Tim O’Brien’s The Sweetie of Tune Tra Bong, Mary Anne discovers her lost identity once she takes a trip to Vietnam. O’Brien describes Mary Anne as the common American white woman.
“A high huge boned blonde. At best, Rat said, she was seventeen years old, fresh out of Cleveland Heights Senior High.
She had long white legs and blue eyes and a skin like strawberry ice cream. Extremely friendly too”. It can be seen that even the colour scheme matches the colours of the American flag. “She’s got on culottes and this sexy pink sweater”. She is also described as to having a ‘bubbly’ character and a happy smile.
This description of Mary Anne fits the best picture of a girl, which is expected by society. In other words, the identity of Mary Anne was no various from the common female image. She can be viewed as a conformist. Due to this conformity, we can not see anything distinct about Mary Anne’s character in the first part of the chapter.
The reality that Mary Anne is extremely curious likewise matches the personality of any ordinary woman. However this personality trait leads her to go through many modifications in her life. “No cosmetics, no fingernail filing, she stopped wearing jewellery, cut her hair brief and wrapped it in a dark green bandanna.” These were a few of the physical modifications Mary Anne went through after hanging around in Vietnam. However the modification is dramatic once she transfers to the Green Beret booze. “In part it was her eyes: entirely flat and indifferent. There was no feeling in her look, no sense of the person behind it. But the monstrous part, he said, was her jewellery.
At the girl’s throat was a necklace of human tongues.” This significant description of Mary Anne distinguishes shockingly from the image of a teenage female, which is accepted by society. It would most definitely be thought about taboo. However we can see that Mary Anne does not find this disturbing. In truth she enjoys it. “”I understand what you believe, however it’s not … bad. I feel near myself. When I am out there during the night, I feel near to my own body, I can feel my blood moving, my skin and my fingernails, whatever, it resembles I have lots of electrical energy …” Here Mary Anne justifies her modification. It can be seen that Mary Anne has discovered her true identity.
This is indicated when she herself states, “I feel near my own body”. In the past Mary Anne was restrained from finding her true identity due the conformities. But once she pertained to Vietnam, she was given the opportunity to gain her uniqueness. Tim O’Brien utilizes strong, and vivid imagery to show how different an individual can actually be when not restrained by social conformities. In the beginning, Mary Anne did not appear to have any uniqueness. But once the conformities were removed, she had the opportunity to be herself and in reality take pleasure in being an individual. When considering Milan Kundera’s Identity and Tim O’Brien’s The important things They Carried.
“Sweetheart of Tune Tra Bong”, both texts deal with the problem of personal identity in various perspectives. The character of Chantal in Milan Kundera’s Identity, loses her identity, and after that under the impact of another character- Jean Marc, regains her identity. The character of Mary Anne in Tim O’Brien’s The Sweetheart of Tune Tra Bong, discovers her true identity once she concerns Vietnam, where social conformities do not exist. The common factor in both texts being that the individuality is lost due to social conformities, the 2 characters in the two texts have two various methods relating to the issue of one’s identity.