I Am the Grass is a short story written by Daly Walker, who has also written other short stories for The Sewanee Review and The Sycamore Review. Born in Winchester, Indiana in 1924, Daly Walker is a surgeon by trade and started to write after he was forty. Daly also served in the Vietnam War from 1967-1968, it serves as an inspiration for I Am the Grass. The story details a mans struggle of life after the war in Vietnam, and returning to Vietnam. This includes painful psychological trauma, the feeling of guilt for his actions, and finally his attempt to redeem himself in his own eyes.
At the start of the story we read about assorted atrocities committed during the Vietnam War by a nameless man, who is the main character. They include raping a thirteen-year old girl, decapitating a man with a machete, and throwing defenseless prisoners off of a helicopter. Along with the atrocities, the reader sees a battered past and something that haunts the main character . The story also goes on to explain how after the war, the main character goes on to medical school where he becomes a successful plastic surgeon.
The main character also describes the fear that comes back to him when anti-war protestors blow up a classroom while he’s asleep. It takes him back to the attacks done on his base while he was in Vietnam, he goes on to explain that even though the he has left the war, “the war has followed him home” (316). The main character shows how he tries to redeem himself for the bad he has done. This includes going to impoverished countries to repair deformities on people who can’t afford plastic surgery. He explains “how it makes me feel like a decent man, a healer” (317). This shows how it feels good for him to heal people as opposed to feeling good killing them when he was younger.
After the minor back-story and introduction to his past and inner-demons, the main character is on a plane headed to Vietnam. Ironically, this time to help the people he once did...
Cited: Meyer, Michael. The Bedford Introduction to Literature: Reading, Thinking, Writing. Boston: Bedford/St. Martins, 2011. Print.
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