Surreal Seemingness in The Things They Carried: The Horrifying, Beautiful Death of Curt Lemon

By Lucy Landry

The beauty of the scene draws the reader in, making one ask “real, or not real?” once more, as they become more aware of the absurd essence of war.

In Tim O’Brien’s memoir The Things They Carried, it is difficult to discern what is real and what is not. What appears to happen in O’Brien’s Vietnam War timeline is not always what exactly happens, even if it feels so to O’Brien and his fellow soldiers. O’Brien seeks this idea out in his work as he writes, “In any true war story…. there is always that surreal seemingness, which makes the story seem untrue, but which in fact represents the hard and exact truth as it seemed” (O’Brien 67-68). The traumatic events O’Brien describes are true to some extent, but the author claims that, in war stories, particularly true ones, what happened is hard to differentiate from what seemed to happen. O’Brien creates this war-clouded vision for his readers. He looks to mirror his own experience of not being able to tell if what he knows and holds from war is fact. A prominent example of this reflection of the bizarre, grotesque essence of war is in the event of Curt Lemon’s death, where O’Brien utilizes descriptive language, juxtaposition, and antiphrasis.

In The Things They Carried, O’Brien paints Curt Lemon to be an aggressively masculine man who always looked to show off to his fellow soldiers, even going to the point of having a healthy tooth pulled out to “renew” his image when the other soldiers began to see him as cowardly. However, Lemon is shown in an entirely different light during the telling of his death. O’Brien employs the use of descriptive, vivid words to transform a horrifying event into a beautiful scene. He writes, “I remember the smell of moss… up in the canopy there were tiny white blossoms… all around us where those ragged green mountains… I glanced behind me and watched Lemon step from the shade into bright sunlight” (O’Brien 67). O’Brien sets the scene for his reader: the air carries the scent of moss and up in the treetops grow small, white blossoms, all surrounded by jagged, green mountains. Lemon enters, clothed in the sunlight, and is lifted up into the treetops to mingle with the tiny flowers. O’Brien’s descriptive language creates an illusion for the readers as he looks to mirror his same experience and feelings in war. What O’Brien illustrates is exactly what seemed to have happened in the moment. Although what is described might not be factually correct, and it wasn’t the sunlight that took Lemon up, it was what appeared to have occurred to O’Brien. To see the difference between it and the detonator killing Lemon would be especially difficult for him. The language in this scene causes the reader to experience the bizarre and ugly nature of war as they witness a common and beautiful death.

To be able to completely render the effect of the almost unreal nature of war onto his readers, O’Brien uses juxtaposition. He writes, “Up in the sunlight there were tiny white blossoms, but no sunlight at all, and I remember the shadows spreading out under the trees…the way the sunlight came around him and lifted him up and sucked him high into a tree full of moss and vines and white blossoms” (O’Brien 67). Here, O’Brien shifts his perspective. At the beginning, the scene is painted with no sunlight. As the narrative moves closer to Lemon’s death, sunlight suddenly appears and it drips off of Lemon. Lemon is completely wrapped in it and is thrown up into the trees from its force. To be carried from such a dismal scene of shadows and tiredness to a scene of play and glow is especially effective. It creates a contrast for the reader that allows the death to stand out. It’s almost as if Lemon’s death sparked an “awakening” in the dark jungle that caused light to enter. This creates the haze over the question of “real, or not real?” within the reader.

O’Brien completes the extraordinary task of forming a death into something beautiful when he retells the demise of his comrade, Lemon. With antiphrasis, O’Brien uses language opposite that of those common to death. Lemon’s death is written as, “His face was suddenly brown and shining. A handsome kid really… when he died it was almost beautiful, the way the sunlight came around him and lifted him up and sucked him high into a tree full of moss and vines and white blossoms” (O’Brien 67). O’Brien directly calls the soldier’s death “beautiful” – something not typically understood in a person’s passing. Lemon himself is shown as a beautiful figure as well, having tan skin, a slim waist, and a face that glows in the sun. Even what he was blown into is shown in a pretty light: the trees are covered in moss and vines and white flowers. The scene is made so carefully and so attractive that the reader almost wants it to be true. The way death is described as something pretty highlights the absolute horror of war. The beauty of the scene draws the reader in, making one ask “real, or not real?” once more, as they become more aware of the absurd essence of war.

Curt Lemon’s death is created in a bizarre and almost unearthly way. What is a brutal death is shaped into something beautiful and to be in awe at. This is how O’Brien experienced Lemon’s end, whether it be factual or not. Using descriptive language, juxtaposition, and antiphrasis, O’Brien allows the reader to experience and understand the surreal seemingness of war through Lemon’s “beautiful” death.

Pollution is Slowly Killing Our Oceans – This is How You Can Help

By Kristine Bakker

 

Causes and Effects 

Oceans are the largest bodies of water present on our planet and cover more than 70 percent of it. Over the last decades, human activity has had an immense impact on marine life and has caused ocean pollution to increase even more each day. The main cause of this pollution is the introduction of toxic and harmful materials into the ocean such as plastic, oil spills, heavy metals, chemicals and most importantly, agricultural, industrial and radioactive waste. Another factor that has a great influence on ocean pollution is the garbage we throw away, which in the majority of cases is transported into the ocean through improper dumping in rivers and streams. Plastic bags can also be carried by the wind and not recycled by recycling facilities since only 1% of them are recycled correctly, leading certain countries to dump their trash illegally into the ocean as well. Mining for materials such as copper and gold is also a major source of contamination and can interfere with the life cycles of major marine organisms like starfish. Sewage is also a clear factor of why the oceans are being polluted more and more. Polluting substances (minerals) inside sewage can enter the oceans directly, causing more impact on marine life than you think.  

THE GREATEST THREAT TO OUR PLANET IS THE BELIEF THAT SOMEONE ELSE WILL SAVE IT. ~ ROBERT SWAN

What You Can Do to Help Reduce Ocean Pollution 

 

  • Support Non Profit Ocean Conservation Organizations

 

Many organizations out there raise money for ocean conservation such as the 4ocean company and Oceana. For every bracelet you buy (which is made out of 100% recycled materials), 4ocean takes out 1 pound of trash from the ocean. Oceana is also a non profit organization that’s more focused on influencing specific policy decisions to preserve and restore the world’s oceans. 

If you don’t want to spend money on helping out a specific organization and want something more local, you could always participate in clubs right here at EAB that focus on impacting the world positively regarding environmental issues. EAB Goes Green is a great example of this, since their main objective is to reduce, reuse and recycle materials here on campus (you can access https://www.eabdf.br/student-life/eab-goes-green/ for more information). 

 

  • Use Fewer Plastic Products 

 

It’s proven that the effects of plastic on marine life are immeasurable and several marine species are on the verge of extinction due to our own plastic consumption. To reduce your own plastic consumption, try not to consume single-use plastic (like plastic straws, cups, plates, etc), instead choose products made from recycled materials and that can be reused. 

 

  • Conserve Water

 

Any of the water you use in your home is later sent to a sewage treatment plant, where the pollutants are removed before going into local bodies of water. However, the problems start to come in when we use too much of the water available to us since our supply is limited. 

 

  • Don’t Litter 

 

It’s a fact that littering is one of the main causes of ocean pollution and can greatly affect marine life. Animals like turtles, seals, birds and dolphins often mistake plastic waste for food, which ends up killing them, so don’t litter! 

 

Political Circus: The Amazon, The Fires and the Interests

By Fernanda Ferreira

The Amazon Rainforest is Burning at Record Rates – The Political Issue Around It Only Worsens It.

A political cartoon published in the BusinessDay magazine caricatures Brazil’s president Jair Bolsonaro with a lawnmower in his hands cutting up the Amazon forest. In a symbolic way, that cartoon represents the current environmental situation and the political issues around it that is wounding the world’s most important rainforest. It is widely known that the Amazon rainforest – whose territory is 60% in Brazil with the other 40% located among 9 South American countries such as Peru and Bolivia – has essential importance to humankind. Besides providing one-fifth of oxygen available in the atmosphere, it is a huge climate controller. According to studies reported in The Ecologist, Amazon’s flying rivers – air current that takes vapor from the forest to the entire south of the continent –  prevents Brazil from turning into a barren desert. 

The importance of the forest is nothing new. Recently, however, there was a large scandal regarding the Amazon forest fires – these happen naturally, on a smaller scale, every year, due to the drought season and other natural conditions. Yet, it has been proven that a significant cause of the fires was humans. This year, the forest is burning at never before seen rates. A comparison made by the National Institute for Space Research (INPE) states that from the same point last year, this year’s fires are 85% worse. Reasons for the astonishing increase have been investigated but, according to the same institution, there is solid evidence of these having a criminal origin. Brazil’s newspaper G1 reported an inquiry made by Brazilian police that found out that farmers from Pará state organized a Fire Day, as they called it, to set fire to the forest to “show work” for Bolsonaro. For those who are not familiarized, the president’s policy supports the exploitation of the forest in order to ensure the agricultural triumph.

But that is not all. The institution previously mentioned, INPE, has also recently published the data regarding the 2019 fires, which have invalidated the on-going fake-news that said the fires situation was not that critical. In response to the publishing, Bolsonaro exonerated the president of the institution saying that the data must be biased and it was not reliable. As being a national organization, INPE is legally required to publish all its information and researches.  Another chapter of this circus was the conflict between Bolsonaro and France’s President Emmanuel Macron. It all started with a demonstrated notable concern from Macron with the Amazon fires. He urged the G-7 members to gather in a discussion on how to address the problem and turned out to a donation of 20 million dollars offered by the countries. Bolsonaro rejected it. His arguments were that France and the international community had imperialist interests on the Amazon forest and moreover, he said the donation would only be accepted if Macron apologizes from insults made.

In contrast, many European countries have had a contradictory concern regarding Amazon preservation. Norwegian investors such as the store brand ASA and the pension fund KLP managed $170 to ensure that global companies were not involved in the fires. The irony is that one year before, another Norwegian company, Hydro, was held responsible for dumping toxic waste in the Amazonian rivers and refused to pay the compensation. Why weren’t the investors concerned back then? It is certainly very controversial for them to express such a genuine concern with global companies when their own country’s company is being blamed for part of the damage as well. 

On the other hand, Brazil’s president continues to support farmers and tried to take out their blame from the Amazon fires. Bolsonaro declared to the Brazilian press when he was asked about the cause of the fires: “Everyone is a suspect, but the main ones are the NGOs”. Again, the political inclination has been over the environmental concern itself. Amazon is burning and the Brazilian government is prioritizing the political issues around it rather than focusing on battling the fires. The political aspect is a huge determinant of all national matters but it must not surpass in importance, the topic itself. 

Bolsonaro is not directly burning the world’s biggest rainforest as the cartoon presented. Still, the trend of positions such as his, inside the Brazilian government, is directly encouraging the setting of fires. Neither Bolsonaro nor the controversial international companies are in fact helping the forest. The political interest of all sides is not really promoting solutions as it should. The Amazon is burning and, unfortunately, the political issue is making it even worse. 

 

unnamedPolitical cartoon mentioned / By Brendan Reynalds

 

*DISCLAIMER: The views, thoughts, and opinions expressed in the article above belong solely to the author, and not necessarily to the Bullseye newspaper nor the EAB institution*

 

Movie Review: Captain Marvel

By: Kenton Heidemann

Marvel is back at it again with a new movie, Captain Marvel, released on March 8th 2019 and in theaters now! Here is a review of the Marvel film.

WARNING SPOILERS AHEAD!!!

If you don’t want any spoilers but would like to see the overall review, scroll down to “Summary and Overall Rating”

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Photo Credits: vox.com

For this review, let’s start off by talking about the star of the movie. The movie stars Brie Larson as Carol Danvers/Vers/Captain Marvel. People have been excited for this movie ever since it was announced. The first official trailer was posted on YouTube on September 18th 2018 and this made people even more excited for the movie, except for one thing. Brie Larson’s acting wasn’t great in the trailer or the movie. Throughout the movie, Carol is finding out so many things about herself, such as the fact that the Kree have been lying to her and she has been away from her real home for 6 years, but Larson still seemed to just keep a straight and emotionless face through almost the whole film. We are hoping that this will change in Avengers: Endgame. Other than that, Brie Larson was a great decision for the role of Carol Danvers.jpeg;base64e799d10447075814.jpg

Photo Credits: movieweb.com

Alongside Brie Larson, Samuel L. Jackson has returned to the big screen as Nick Fury. Jackson stole the spotlight in this movie with his once again great acting and funny character, but there are also some points where the movie made Fury seem like less of a serious character than he is supposed to be. The humor of the character is great but there is a point where it is too much. For example, in this movie they made it that Nick lost his eye because of a cat (Flerken) named Goose. It got a lot of laughs, but it made some of Fury’s more serious quotes from the other movies seem less serious. Such as when Fury said in Captain America: The Winter Soldier “Last time I trusted someone, I lost an eye” while talking to Steve Rodgers about “Project Insight.”

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Photo Credits: indiewire.com

Despite those things, the movie’s storyline remains great. The movie is about how Vers, a member of the Kree military, gets kidnapped on a mission by another species named Skrulls and ends up getting stranded on planet C-53 (Earth). While she waits for the Kree to find her and get her back to the Kree home planet Hala, Vers discovers she once lived in Earth, her real name is Carol Danvers, and that the Kree are the real enemies. This was a great way to introduce Captain Marvel into the Marvel Cinematic Universe. It gives the background of the character in an interesting and exciting way and Carol wasn’t the only who was given a little more of a backstory in this movie. It gave more information on characters such as Nick Fury and Ronan (the antagonist of the first Guardians of the Galaxy movie). Not only was the storyline great, but the fight scenes were choreographed really well and definitely kept the audience’s attention.

Summary and Overall Rating

The overall rating of this movie is a 7/10. Larson’s acting could be greatly improved and made the movie a little boring. The comedy was funny at times, but there were points where it made quotes from other movies sound weaker than they should be and a few jokes were badly timed and not needed in the final film. Despite that, the storyline and the fights were very well written and interesting. Along with that, there are the great performances from actors such as Samuel L. Jackson as Nick Fury and Annette Bening as Mar-Vell. It’s recommended that you watch this movie.