Who is a “lifer” among the texts and films we’ve encountered? Make sure you define “lifer.” (There may be more than one). How can you tell?

Mid-term Examination



Part I: Read the passages from our reading and identify them in the first question before answering two analytical questions.      

  1. It was weird. The first person that died in each battalion of the 9th Marines that landed was black. And they were killed by our own people. Comin’ back into them lines was the most dangerous thing then. It was more fun sneakin’ into Ho Chi Minh’s home than comin’ back into the lines at Danang. Supposed the idiot is sleeping on watch and he wake up. All of a sudden he sees people. That’s all he sees. There was a runnin’ joke around Vietnam that we was killing more of our own people than the Vietnamese were. Like we were told to kill any Vietnamese in black. We didn’t know that the ARVN had some black uniforms, too.  And you could have a platoon commander calling the air strikes, and he’s actually calling on your position. It was easy to get killed by an American.
  1. Identify the text, author, character(s), and situation. (3 points)
  • How does Platoon illustrate the last line, “It was easy to get killed by an American”? (You could interpret this question several ways: you might re-watch the ending of the film or re-read O’Nan’s synopsis of the film). (7 points)
  • This veteran describes Black veterans or “Bloods” being the most frequent victims of friendly fire. How does he become radicalized so he can oppose racial violence and oppression? (7 points)

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  • He pulled into Sunset Park and stopped in the shadow of a picnic shelter. After a time he got out, walked down to the beach, and waded into the lake without undressing. The water felt warm against his skin. He put his head under. He opened his lips, very slightly, for the taste, then he stood up and folded his arms and watched the fireworks. For a small town, he decided, it was a pretty good show.
  1. Identify the author, text, character(s), and situation. (3 points)
  • Why does this character walk into the water in his clothes?  What is the significance of this story being set on the Fourth of July?   (7 points)
  • How does the information in “Notes” change your interpretation of the story? Whom does the story turn out to be about, after all?  (7 points)                  

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  • Helicopters and people jumping out of helicopters, people so in love they’d run to get on even when there wasn’t any pressure. Choppers rising straight out of small cleared jungle spaces, wobbling down onto city rooftops, cartons of rations and ammunition thrown off, dead and wounded loaded on. Sometimes they were so plentiful and loose that you could touch down at five or six places in a day, look around, hear the talk, catch the next one out. There were installations as big as cities with 30,000 citizens, once we dropped in to feed supply to one man. Lord knows what kind of Lord Jim phoenix numbers he was doing in there, all he said to me was, “You didn’t see a thing, right Chief? You weren’t even here.” There were posh fat air-conditioned camps like comfortable middle-class scenes with the violence tacit, “far away”: camps named for commanders’ wives, LZ Thelma, LZ Betty Lou; numbered-named hilltops in trouble where I didn’t want to stay; trail, paddy, swamp, deep hairy bush, scrub, swale, village, even city, where the ground couldn’t drink up what the action spilled. It made you careful where you walked.
  1. Identify the author, text, character(s), and situation. (3 points)
  • The Vietnam War was characterized by air mobility. How did the use of helicopters in this conflict affect soldiers psychologically, according to this passage? (Note that the narrator begins in the air and winds up on the ground). (7 points)
  • An earlier passage from the same text describes a chopper as a “saver-destroyer.” In the Ride of the Valkyries scene from Apocalypse Now, how are the helicopters both savers and destroyers? Be specific. (8 points)

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  •       I want you to feel what I felt. I want you to know why story-truth is truer sometimes than happening-truth.

      Here is the happening-truth. I was once a soldier. There were many bodies, real bodies with real faces, but I was young then and I was afraid to look. And, now, twenty years later, I’m left with faceless responsibility and faceless grief.

      Here is the story-truth. He was a slim, dead, almost dainty young man of about twenty. He lay in the center of a red clay trail near the village of My Kai. His jaw was in his throat. His eye was shut, the other eye a star-shaped hole. I killed him.

     What stories can do, I guess, is make things present.

      I can look at things I never looked at. I can attach faces to grief and love and pity and God. I can make myself brave. I can make myself feel again.

  1. Identify the author, text, character(s), and situation. (3 points).

           2.  What is the difference between story-truth and happening-truth? (Make sure you  

               don’t get them mixed up). In your own words, what is the importance of story-truth, 

              according to this writer? (7 points)

3.Describe a moment from “Spin” or “How to Tell a True War Story” where you think the narrator doesn’t tell the happening-truth. How can you tell? Why do you think he altered the happening-truth? (8 points)

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Part II. Provide the definitions from the lecture notes and assignments. Random ones from the Internet won’t count. Three points each.

  1. A Bildungsroman
  • The My Lai Massacre (also provide year)
  • ARVN
  • New Journalism
  • “gook” (also briefly explain the source of this racial epithet)
  • A set piece
  • Metafiction
  • The NVA
  • “walking point”
  1. Allegory

Extra credit:

  1. How does Excerpt C embody New Journalism? Be specific.

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Extra Credit Continued

  • Who is a “lifer” among the texts and films we’ve encountered? Make sure you define “lifer.” (There may be more than one). How can you tell?
  • Does Oliver Stone side with the Juicers or the Heads in Apocalypse Now? How can you tell? (Make sure you define these terms in your response).

Correct the comma splices here and type the sentences out correctly. Reminder: a comma splice is two complete sentences joined by a comma. It is a common error.

  • Adam went to the gym every day, he lost a lot of weight.
  • Mark Twain is known as a great writer, however he never succeeded at writing poetry.