English Commentary

The following is a commentary on paragraph in P.G 211 a 212 in the
Sorrow of War..

The paragraph from page 211 to 212 has a very important significance
to the story as a whole. It has a lot of metaphors and similes that
add to the sorrowful mood of the story. In the beginning, the
paragraph is very poetic, juxtaposing past images of life to future
and present images of death and destruction. In specific it juxtaposes
the "eternal" beauty of his girlfriend Phuong to the tragic finality
of war. The paragraph is written in the simple past tense, the perfect
past tense which means the past before the past and the hypothetical
"would" in order to emphasize Kien\'s deep longings to relive the past.
It also shows us how Kien lost his spirit of fighting, and gave up
hope. This is spiritual loss, and it is what most soldiers were
experiencing. There is basically no more hope, no more life, just
death. Overall, the paragraph reflects images of the sorrows of war.

The sorrows and effects of war are clearly shown when the narrator
reverses traditional symbols. The first very evident example of
reversing traditional symbols is the narrator\'s use of the concept of
"miracle" and "dream" not to talk about a future goal but about the
past. Thus returning to the past and finding it "unchanged" becomes a
"miracle" and a "dream". We usually dream of the future and hope for
a miracle that would "change" our lives. However the miracle that
Kien awaits is to find that the past still exists "untouched" and
"untainted". Of course that miracle is impossible and consequently
the paragraph has a deep nostalgic sadness. Like Kien, we can feel
the painful irony of the impossibility of this miracle to happen.
Other images function in the same way to show Kien\'s despair and loss
of hope. He saw "a river stretching before him. He saw himself
floating towards his death". Here the narrator compares the river to a
path that ends life. However, we usually associate rivers with freedom
and ongoing life. The narrator also says "fate waited to take him from
the terrible present to the happy days of the past". The narrator is
showing us how much he longs to relive the past and how he dreads the
present, and views his future as a horrible period of time.

In the beginning of the paragraph, the narrator creates a beautiful
world untouched by war through many poetic images. The narrator says
"she would have been untainted by war". This shows us how war has
ruined the girl Kien loved. The narrator creates images in our minds;
about how his girlfriend would be if it wasnít for war. "She would be
forever beautiful.", "Phong would remain young forever," and "No one
would ever come close to her beauty". The narrator uses "forever" and
"ever" and this evokes the image of a wonderful eternal life, that
would have existed if it hadnít been for war. The narrator uses
several similes that give a poetic feeling to the paragraph. The
narrator says "As a green meadow" and "as fragrant flowers". These
similes show us how much the narrator feels happy when he remembers or
talks about the past, or about the pre-war period. In our minds this
beautiful world of eternal and unchanged love is juxtaposed with the
ugly reality of Kien alone in his room.

The passage moves from describing Kien\'s longing for a miracle to a
dream he has. This shift reflects a change in his outlook from an
impossible hope to deep despair. "Would be a miracle", "would be
untainted" and "would be untouched, unchanged". The repetition of the
word "would" gives us an image of a hypothetical possibility. In
contrast, Kien\'s dream is an experience he relives at night when he
says "spreading before him were the past forty years". It is clear
that Kien has changed from dreaming about a beautiful unchanged past
to reliving it at night.

The narrator clearly shows to us the sorrows of war through the images
he creates in our minds. He uses the words "death", "destruction" and
"war" while talking about