Wednesday, October 16, 2013

Field Trip

          Tim O’Brien’s story Field Trip is about a war veteran returning to pay homage to his deceased best friend. Kiowa died during the war after he drowned in the “shit field.” To O’Brien “[t]his little field…had swallowed so much.” (176). He talks about the loss of his best friend, his pride and his belief in himself. The field was a place of great meaning and importance to O’Brien. He returned because he wanted to honor his best friend by burying the moccasins where Kiowa had died. Additionally, Tim O’Brien wanted to show his daughter Vietnam, “…the Vietnam that kept [him] awake at night…” (176). This, in a way, is honoring the war and what enormous impact it had on O’Brien as a person both during and after the war. People often return to scenes of trauma for closure, to pay tribute or for remembrance. It’s not necessarily always a war zone that people return to, maybe a grave, museum or monument. In Field Trip O’Brien’s daughter, Kathleen, does not understand the meaning behind her father’s visit to My Khe, and therefore is slightly irritable. Events can have different impacts on different people, sometimes it has an impact on the next generation and sometimes it does not. In the movie, Schindler’s List, directed by Steven Spielberg, the work of Oskar Schindler does have an impact on future generations.
            Oskar Schindler was a German man working to save Jewish victims of the Nazis. In the movie, Schindler brings multiple Jewish people to work in his factory so they will not be sent to concentration camps. Today, the descendants of the people Oskar Schindler saved are incredibly grateful for his work. Without Schindler, thousands of people would not be alive today, he was responsible for saving the lives of over one thousand Jewish Europeans. The present-day descendants of Schindler’s Jews, as named in the movie, honor and thank Schindler by placing rocks on his tombstone. In the Jewish culture placing rocks on tombstones symbolizes permanence of memory, and such an important memory this is for a myriad of people. Oskar Schindler’s acts were audacious and unconventional, and therefore an amazing contribution in society. Schindler said “[h]e who saves one life saves the world entire.” This quote is incredibly powerful because in the eyes of the people whose lives he saved, he did indeed save their entire world.
            In both stories people travel to a place of great significance in order to honor a specific person. For Tim O’Brien it was his best friend, for Jewish Europeans it was their life-saver. Schindler’s altruistic nature is cause for celebration for thousands of present-day progeny of Holocaust survivors. Kiowa’s meaningful friendship with O’Brien  provided a way for O’Brien to gain closure and pay his respects. Thus, the death of two people, who were influential in two different ways, resulted in sincere commemoration. 

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Oskar Schindler - The Righteous Among The Nations. N.d. Photograph. Yad Vashem, Jerusalem.


  1. Great post, Bradlee! Schindler's list is an incredible movie and you did a good job of tying it to "Field Trip" through the shared element of paying homage to a site for a significant person. While it was the death of Kiowa that caused O'Brien to return to the field, it was the work Schindler did during his life that is cause for remembrance today. Nonetheless, you did a great job of highlighting the commonalities between these two stories.

  2. Awesome job Bradlee!
    I really enjoyed reading your post and your comparison was very interesting.
    I can tell you really analyzed this chapter!
    great job!

  3. Great connection, Bradlee! I loved how you related one war to another, because it showed how there are similarities in every war, though every war is different. I also liked how you addressed the fact that people often return to scenes of trauma for closure, because I think this is definitely true and is very interesting.

  4. I loved how you compared both stories. It is ironic in a way because Kiowa and Oscar were just trying to help during a war. I have to go watch that movie now! Instead of focusing on the sad part of the story, I liked how you chose a happy part (well, happier than the rest of the chapter) and related it a happy part of another sad incident.

  5. Great job Bradlee! Your comparison is something I would've never thought of (especially since I haven't seen the movie). I like how you compared two totally different war and were able to tie them together. I really want to watch this movie now!

  6. I think that you summarized and compared the chapter really well! Nice work.