Friday, May 23, 2008

“Dentist” and "Stockings"

How is "Stockings" different than “Sweetheart…” ? What's the effect or purpose of this? How does "Dentist" fit into the mix?


robert kramer said...

The two stories differ mainly in the personalities of the two men that are in love and how their reactions differ. In "Sweetheart", Mark Fossie has the idea and takes the initiative to bring his girlfried to the war. Henry Dobbins is portrayed as a good character but certainly not clever enough to do something like that. In the end both characters lose their girlfriends, but they respond differently. Fossie seems unable to accept his girlfriend's dissapearance and is never the same person, but Dobbins shrugs and continues to use his girlfriend's stocking as a good luck charm. Another difference is in how the women are portrayed. In "stockings", Dobbins' girlfriend is the typical soldier's girfriend- completely unable to understand the war and therefore ignorant and intolerant of what her boyfriend is going through. The same cannot be said in "Sweetheart". Fossie's girlfriend proves that she does understand the war and even becomes more at peace with it than most men. Her actions destroy the stereotype of American girlfriends as hopelessly ignorant of what war is like. Fossie's girlfriend reaches the point of intoxication with the war, whether to prove herself or just to face the thrill of risking her life.
In "Dentist", Lemon is driven to have an operation more by a desire to prove himself to others. He conquers his phobia of going to the dentist by undergoing a painful operation, and this differs significantly from the intoxication that Fossie's girlfriend is supposedly driven by and from the simple, perhaps mindless faith of Dobbins. They all provide motivation and, to some extent, morale to the soldiers.

Michele L. said...

The main difference between the two stories are the actions and peronsalities of the two girlfriends. In "Sweetheart", Fossie stays out of the war action. He was drafted into the war and wanted nothing to do with it. This could be one of the reasons he brought his girlfriend to Vietnam, because he wanted as much familiarity as possible, mentally and physically by her being there. He did not want to come by choice and didn't feel like he belonged there. His girlfriend, on the other hand, came by choice and therefore felt a sense of belonging in Vietnam, shown by wanting to be in the action of the war. Fossie ends up losing his girlfriend physically in Vietnam when she runs away. In "Stockings", Dobbins is in the action and although he doesn't want to be there, he does feel a sense of belonging in Vietnam, something the soldiers can't find once they return home. His girlfriend does not act like Fossie's and stays at home. When she breaks up with him, Dobbin's keeps her pantyhose and although he loses her emotionally, by no longer having her, he keeps the pantyhose for luck, keeping her "physically" with him. I agree that both these chapters and "Dentist" show that all the soldier's have motivation. and reason for being in the war, and each soldier is there to please others and keep their pride. I'm not sure what else it shows, though.

Mrs. Gerber said...

Very interesting reads. You might want to check out O'Brien's interview/transcript, as he goes into the role of women as they connect to these specific stories.