IB English HL
The Sorrow of War: Supervised Writing
In the novel, “The Sorrow of War” by Bao Ninh, takes readers into an inside look of the tragedy and horror of the Vietnam war and the lives of the soldiers and their families. One of the major themes in this novel are religion and spirituality. Ninh uses this major theme to show the realities of war and the lives of the soldiers. Ninh uses many diction, imagery, and specific religions to show the effects of war on Kien and how this has affected his spirituality. Ninh uses these literary techniques to show how religion is almost a sense of reality; the war and their new life has taken over their own lives and beliefs. Through the third person point of view of Kien, spirituality is a major focal point of Kien. Throughout the beginning of the story, readers find out about the beliefs of the soldiers themselves being in the war; how it is “better to die than to surrender”. As the story goes on, Bao Ninh’s viewpoints of religion start to unfold. Ninh uses the main character in the story, Kiken as a way to show his viewpoints on religion. In the novel, Kien is someone who has many different beliefs and there is seen many times throughout the novel of, Buddhism, Animism, Taoism, etc. Kien mentions how, Heaven is seen in the war as a real life person; something that will keep you alive in the war, “‘If we leave this game unfinished Heaven will grant favors, keeping us alive and return and finish the game...But heavens not stupid. You can’t cheat Him. If you play only half of the game The Man Up There will send for us…” (Ninh 10). In this quote, Ninh uses capitalization and diction of “Heaven” and “The Man Up There”, to show how Kien and his soldiers believe in heaven and that this is what is keeping them alive. The reality is that their belief in heaven and some higher power is the only thing that is keeping them going. ...
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