By: Bobbie Ann Mason
I had a difficult time with the characters and the setting of the story. This might have been on purpose on Bobbie Ann Mason’s part, to connect in a very close and emotional way. This novel would really connect with people who lived through the Vietnam war and the 1980’s. All of her references to time and regional aspects of setting, such as K-Marts, McDonald’s and the song titles stop Sam and the reader from connecting onto a different level. Sam and Emmett did not eat right or do what was right for their bodies. They ate from McDonalds, they ate TV dinners, they drank soda and beer, and they also smoked cigarettes. Sam’s father was dead because of the war which is the whole point of the book on how she is trying to find out what her father was really like and who he was as a person. Irene who is Sam’s mother use to tell her stories about the war, but then it upset her so her mom stopped. “It upset her to be reminded of the war, but the reality of it didn’t register on Sam until one day soon after they got their first color TV set” (Pg. 51). Vietnam became a real place to Sam at that point. Sam’s Pap also told her stories “He was a good boy,” “He never took a drink, didn’t smoke” (Pg. 196) Sam’s Uncle Emmett is in charge since she no longer has her dad and her mom lives in Kentucky with her new husband and Sam is reluctant to go because she wants to stay and watch over her Uncle Emmett. Sam is always trying to get him to tell her what the war was like but he cannot describe it. So instead they sit at home watching Mash the television show learning about war in general and Sam also reads books to gather up more information in her spear time. Sam is afraid to leave Emmett because she is feeling like he is connected to her father and the Vietnam War, and if she ever aspects to learn more about her father, Sam thinks Emmett could be the one to help. Sam’s mother Irene offered for her to come live with her and her new husband...
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