Dear America: Letters Home from Vietnam Chapter Questions and Answers

Topics: Vietnam War, South Vietnam, Vietnam Pages: 17 (5936 words) Published: September 9, 2013
Chapter One: Cherries- First Impressions

1. What is the purpose of the title? What connotations does this title hold? What do you expect to find in the letters that will follow?

The purpose of the title is to give the audience the impression that the following stories are not only the first impressions of the soldiers but the expectations they hold of the Vietnam War and the new experiences they are enduring as “Cherries” to the war. The meaning behind this title is that the soldiers are virgins to the war and are just starting out their one-year of service. Readers can expect to see future letters of shock and suffering by the soldiers as the war makes them age and become one of the countless soldiers.

2. The introduction tells a tale of what life was like for the cherries? What is being conveyed by this piece of prose? What is the purpose? How do you understand this?

The letters are written mostly by the “cherries’ with little light, limited supplies and in harsh conditions and as readers we receive a small snippet of their stories. The introduction provides concentrated details of the life without the downplay that some soldiers give to their parents or loved ones. It is very confronting and as the title describes gives the audience an introduction to the chapter. The soldiers feelings are conveyed in the introduction as well as their expectations and suffering of the initial shock of the war. The purpose of this introduction was to give the audience an idea of what was to come in future letters, the facts that the soldiers missed out on.

3. What ideas do you come across while reading this chapter and how are these established?

The ideas that I came across was that letters home were describing a brutality that the young soldiers has never experienced before, they were thrown into life threating situations that resulted in losing a friend’s life or their own. In the first chapter you saw the young boys lose their childhood to the horrors of war through descriptions of their experiences and their loss of humanity and comforts. They also experience the shock of the different weather and environmental conditions that descripts that a war is not just one of combat.

4. What seems to be running themes throughout the anthology so far and how are the soldiers portrayed? Offer evidence to support this.

The themes that are beginning to form in the first chapter of this anthology include: reality of the war, mate-ship, grief of first losing a friend or known soldier, adjusting to new lifestyle, coming to terms with their year ahead and fresh to combat. These themes therefore give the soldiers a projection that they new to combat and war and have little experience or knowledge. Their letters describe that there only battles at this war in the book are with the environment and weather as for mostly the enemy is unseen. An example of mate-ship includes: “men have gone on operations here with broken ankles in order not to let their buddies down.” And an example of first losing a friend includes: “it really tears me to lose a man… but I must not show my emotion.”

Chapter Two: Humping the Boonies

1. The chapter title ‘humping the boonies” is an example of the colloquial language used by American soldiers during the Vietnam War. What did it mean?

The slang phrase of “humping the boonies”, that was popularized in the Vietnam War had the meaning of to march with a heavy pack through the jungle or countryside. As the word hump can mean to exert one self.

2. How would you describe the image that introduces this chapter? Comment on the content of the photograph in relation to the chapter title.

The photograph depicts that the soldiers are “humping the boonies” in other words doing it rough in the jungle, carrying big amounts and often everything they own, ammunition and weapons as well as little comforts including shaving cream and rations for food.

3. What evidence is there to...
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