Who Is Elroy Berdahl's Self Criticism

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As humans interact, they affect each other in their everyday life. They naturally analyze and critique each other, becoming self-conscious in the idea of being judged. In Tim O’Brien’s novel, The Things They Carried he is faced with the issue of self-criticism. He comes to the conclusion to go to the war, being critical of himself. However, one can argue that he should not be harsh in his self criticism. Although Elroy Berdahl wants O'Brien to become a draft dodger, O’Brien ultimately goes to the war to please others and O'Brien has no freedom to make his own decision. Tim O’Brien is very critical of his decision and should not be so harsh on his self-criticism because he does go to Vietnam, but only for the sake of pleasing and being accepted…show more content…
O’Brien leaves work, abandons his town, driving North. He reaches the Tip Top Lodge and asks for a room. When Berdahl provides the room for O’Brien, O’Brien realizes that “[Berdahl] already knew. After all it was 1968, and guys were burning draft cards and Canada was just a boat ride away.” (O’Brien, 49) Berdahl provides the room for O’Brien without asking for personal information. Although Berdahl does not ask questions at the time, it is proven that he is curious about O’Brien because when O’Brien and Berdahl discuss O’Brien’s previous job, Berdahl confesses that he questions why O’Brien smells of pig when he first comes to the Tip Top Lodge. Berdahl is able to accumulate knowledge of the circumstances that O’Brien is in because Berdahl quietly observes and is present to O’Brien when O’Brien finds it necessary. Berdahl makes the assumption that O’Brien is an expecting draft dodger because he was heading north and happened to land along the Rainy River, which is between Canada and the US. With Berdahl’s lodge being so close to the Rainy River, the reader can assume that Berdahl supports the draft dodgers with his lodging along with the fishing resort it is referred as. As O’Brien accompanies Berdahl, Berdahl takes O’Brien with him to go fishing along the Rainy River. O’Brien realizes that they are about 20 yards from the border. O’Brien says, “I remember…show more content…
When O’Brien first receives the draft notice, his immediately panics and his first thought is that “[he] was too good for this war. Too smart, too compassionate, too everything.” (O’Brien, 41) After graduating, O’Brien made plans for his future life which included a scholarship for Harvard. He was constructing his life so that he would be able to establish the life he wants. He was involved with Phi Betta Kappa, was the top of his class and was the president of the student body. He does not believe the letter was meant for him as he considers himself to have so much potential. In this he does not have much control over what was expected of him as he only had two options, go to the war or become a draft dodger. After a day of working at the pig plant, O’Brien drives around town in his father’s car still thinking about how he was sent the draft notice. What came to his mind was that “the problem, though was that a draft board did not let you choose your war.” (O’Brien, 44) Previous to this, O’Brien thinks of how his life is spiralling for the worse. O’Brien decides to work at the pig plant to prepare for the war he does not want to participate in. With the war deciding that he shall participate, O’Brien will also have to give up attending to his scholarship at Harvard as they will likely put the government duties before his education. O’Brien tries to find any

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