Respond in detail to each question listed below.
“On Rainy River“
First, how do your personal beliefs, background, politics, etc… play into how you might read and interpret this story? This is a potentially divisive story – we usually have strong feelings about war and those who fight them, and it is important to examine where any emotional reactions you have might be based.
Do you feel sympathy for O’Brien, or do you feel some sense of judgment for his initial reaction to the draft notice? (Be honest) When he goes off on his rant about how he is too good for this war, and the people who want the war should have to send their wives and children to the front lines, what reaction do you have to this?
How does this story challenge what might be our stereotypical war story – or story about a soldier? How does it challenge a stereotypical view of what it means to be a ‘man’? What is the place of this story in a collection of war stories? Did you fully believe O’Brien when he says that the brave thing for him would have been to run away to Canada? How did the last line in the story “I was a coward. I went to war” strike you?
Read the attached file -which gives one of Tim O’Brien’s lectures Download one of Tim O’Brien’s lectures where he specifically talks about Rainy River and offers a surprising new perspective on the story. How did you feel when you realized, after reading O’Brien’s lecture, that the entire story was made-up? That nothing in it actually happened, and his real summer involved nothing so interesting? Did you feel cheated? How do you feel about what he says about the purpose of fiction – to get at the truth that was too deep for the “true story” to actually convey?