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Going After Cacciato by Tim O'Brien
Going After Cacciato

connorpeterson9, May 15, 2011

The novel Going After Cacciato is an amazing story of how soldiers were able to cope with the hardships of the Vietnam War. The novel takes place in Vietnam during the controversial Vietnam War. The tale is told through the eyes of Private Paul Berlin, as he creates a dream where one of his platoon members, Cacciato, runs away to Paris. Paul’s mission is to catch Cacciato, a deserter and dreams helped Paul Berlin cope with the war. During the dream, Paul was able to escape to a beautiful and peaceful city, which for the short duration allowed an outlet from the horrors of war.
Tim O’Brien also utilizes many literary elements to demonstrate how the ideas of confusion, boredom, beauty, and fear affect the soldiers as they are fighting the war. The novel is split into short and long chapters, which are not in chronological order. The use of short chapters illustrates how war can be very demanding, but once the battle is done the soldiers have to cope with extreme boredom until they are forced to fight again. O’Brien also uses Paris, France as a symbol for peace and tranquility. This symbol is essential to the novel because Paul Berlin and his platoon purposely desert the war to catch Cacciato who is planning to reach Paris. Therefore the soldiers love the idea of leaving the war and living stress free in France. Finally, a theme found within the novel is always looking for the good things while at war. This theme was advice from Paul Berlin’s father as he was talking to his son before he went to war. This theme is present within the novel because Paul Berlin purposely creates a story so he could stay positive, and look for the good that takes place around the world.
Overall Tim O’Brien’s novel is a must read for anyone who loves war stories. The narrator takes the reader on an emotional roller coaster as war can create many different emotions within the soldiers. The tale takes a platoon of soldiers who disagree with the war, and follows them across the continent of Asia and into France as they chase a deserting platoon member, Cacciato. The novel demonstrates how soldiers cope with the atrocities of war, the constant boredom of war, and the psychological trauma that comes with war. The best part about O’Brien’s writing style is how personal he can make the story feel. As the story is told in third person, and third person omniscient the reader feels everything the narrator is feeling as the story unfolds. In the novel, O’Brien addresses the controversial War by focusing on characters that fought in spite of their disapproval for the war. Anyone who is interested in learning more about the Vietnam War, a tale about soldiers looking for peace, or a great War story should definitely read this amazing book. Finally, if you enjoyed O’Brien’s other novel, The Things They Carried, this novel is a perfect fit for you.

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