English 11 AP
17 September 2011
The Hidden Meaning
In “On the Rainy River” author Tim O’Brien must face his greatest fear. This fear tears him up inside, causing him to feel a “terrible squeezing pressure” in his chest and moves him to tears. This fear is being drafted into the Vietnam War. Throughout the passage, O’Brien uses many literary strategies such as repetition and appealing to some of the five senses to express his fears of the draft and how he deals with them. When broken down, the passage is then able to be seen for its’ hidden meanings and details that will change how reading is read.
When O’Brien states how Canada was only twenty yards away, he follows the statement with the specific environment that was there. His thought process was so specific that he would even describe the tiny things by saying, “I could see tiny red berries on the bushes.” O’Brien wanted the audience to understand how close he was to making a big decision and how challenging this was for him. O’Brien uses many descriptions in the first two passages such as saying that, “The air had the brittle scent of October.” This statement can be compared to how Tim was feeling bitter at that time because of the conflict he was having. He was not sure which decision to make; whether to flee from his problems by running away to Canada or face his fear of the draft by going to war. Therefore, O’Brien collaborated what Tim was feeling with his surroundings so that the audience could get an image in their head and get the full effect of the situation that Tim was in.
Once the setting is established, O’Brien begins to describe the pain in his chest. The author did this because he wanted the audience to feel what the young man was going through and know that he was beyond nervous. Along with the pain in Tim’s chest, O’Brien incorporated some of the five senses into Tim’s emotions by describing how close the Canadian shore was. He was so close that he could see all of the animals looking at him. O’Brien mentions that he “could see the delicate lattice work of leaves, the texture of the soil, the browned needles beneath the pines, the configurations of geology and human history.” Here, it almost seems like he is trying to convince himself to go to Canada by making it sound good. It’s like he knows his mind is made up, and at the same time wants to try to persuade himself of how Canada would be the better option.
As the passage comes to a close, O’Brien states, “I saw my parents calling to me from the far shoreline. I saw my brother and sister, all the townsfolk, the mayor and the entire Chamber of Commerce and