The Vietnam war was hard for him to understand. He would go door to door and speak his views of the war in which most people disagreed but he saw no point In the killing and fighting and the killing again. Himself as a person could not kill a man looking straight down the barrel of his gun. While trying to make a decision about going toward he stated, “There were times when I thought I’d gone off the psychic edge” (O’Brien 77). Tim O’Brien went through a descent into madness after being drafted for war.
The first defense mechanism that Tim O’Brien used when dealing with the thought f going to war was denial. Denial was the first stage into his descent into madness. Tim O’Brien showed signs of denial when he decided to keep quiet and not tell anyone, not even his close family, about the draft notice he received. Upon receiving the letter O’Brien instantaneously fell into a state of isolation and kept distance from all his closest relatives. He spent his days working and sulking about himself. When asked about his plans or what was wrong with him he only said, “Nothing, wait,” (O’Brien 72).
Next O’Brien decided to run away from home. When he ran away room home he also showed signs of his denial about the draft notice. He felt that running away would get rid of all his problems when really he was denying all responsibility he had to make a decision of going to the war. He only left a vague note for his parents whom never saw the escape coming. Once he had left and had arrived at the Tip Top Lodge, he stayed with a man named Elroy to which he says, “The man who opened the door that day Is the hero of my life,” (O’Brien 76).
While staying there O’Brien revealed more signs of denial about being drafted because he ever said a word to Elroy about what was going on with him even though he had stayed with him for six whole days. Tim constantly kept himself busy to try and keep his thoughts off of the draft notice. Trying to forget about guilt or any other feelings is denial. Denial was the first step Into his madness because denying it ever happened made Tim O’Brien lose his mind, feeling very guilty about the draft notice and how he was dealing with It. Tim O’Brien revealed signs of another defense mechanism called repression.
Repression by definition means that a person reverts back to an earlier stage in life, acts in a child-like behavior. A good example of repression used in the short story was when Tim ran away from home. Running away from home when life gets tough is something known by preteens and teenagers to do. When Tim ran away he was reverting Deck to a canal-lake Detonator. Instead AT running away Trot Nils problems, Tim could have more maturely handled the situation and got the help he needed instead of running away like a teenager would do only because life wasn’t what he wanted it to be.
Tim O’Brien also repressed his feelings by refusing to talk to anyone about his problems. He locked up and stubbornly refused any help that could have been offered to him by friends and family. Instead Tim sulked around his house and felt sorry for himself. He let the draft letter get to his head and he knew that he was falling into illness of the mind because he said it over and over through the short story that he, “.. Felt a sickness inside me,” (O’Brien 74). Even knowing that he was falling deeper and deeper into an illness he still refused to talk it out with his family to keep himself safe from harm.
After getting the draft notice he completely lost aspect for himself and stopped caring for himself which also is very child-like for an adult to forget about keeping track of his life. Instead, he let his life fall and he didn’t care to bring it back up. He should have taken his time until he had to leave for the Vietnam war and make the best for the time he had or express to authorities why he believes he should not go to war or even express his feelings to friends and family. Tim also started to hallucinate because of repressing his feelings.
He felt a heavy amount of guilt from running away because he also knew that it wasn’t how he would have handled the situation. The last time he hallucinated was when he finally realized his repressed feelings and let them come out into the open describing his hallucination this way; “l saw faces from my distant past and distant future. My wife was there. My unborn daughter waved at me, and my two sons hopped up and down, and a drill sergeant named Bolton sneered and shot up and finger and shook his head. There was a choir in bright purple robes. There was a cabbage from the Bronx.
There was a slim young man I would one day kill with a hand grenade along a red lay tail outside the village of My She… And in my head I could hear people screaming at me. Traitor! They yelled. Turncoat! Coward! ” This final hallucination brought out all of his repressed feelings and he was finally able to own up to himself. Tim O’Brien also became very paranoid at one point stating that he was seeing, “Getting chased by Border Patrol, helicopters and searchlights and barking dogs,”(O’Brien 77). All of these examples prove that Tim O’Brien began to repress his feelings.
Repression was the second defense mechanism that Tim O’Brien used when dealing with the draft twice that also led him into his spiral into madness. The third and final defense mechanism that Tim O’Brien used after receiving the draft notice was suppression. Suppression is basically forgetting about it ever happening. Just after Tim received the draft notice he went into a state of isolation as stated in the above paragraphs. During that state of isolation he completely forgot about the draft notice and spent his day sulking that his ‘life was over’.
He never told anyone about it, most likely wanting to completely forget about it hoping that maybe it would go away. Even though his own parents asked about what his plans were he never mentioned anything about a draft notice. He never even looked at the letter after he saw it the first time when he received it. Suppressing a problem will only make it worse. Throughout the story Tim O’Brien also expresses not remember many things during that time period. When talking about what the letter said he stated, “want It Salad, exactly, I don’t recall I Nils napped as a result AT suppressing feelings.
While staying at the Tip Top Lodge with Elroy Bernard, Tim continued suppressing his feelings. He would keep himself busy with yard work around the lodge and going to hikes, anything to keep his mind off things. He stated that, “On one or two afternoons, to pass some time, I helped Elroy get the place ready for winter, sweeping down the cabins and hauling in the boats, little chores that kept my body moving. ” (O’Brien 78). By doing these things consciously he is suppressing the memory of receiving the draft letter and at one point during his stay he completely forgot about the letter.
Although once the memory came back he was overwhelmed and became physically sick. Suppressing his memories of the draft twice kept him up at night because although the memory was forgotten consciously, it laid in the back of his mind unconsciously. He described some days as, “l was sweating and couldn’t shut it off. I went through whole days feeling dizzy with sorrow. I couldn’t sleep; I couldn’t lie still. At night I’d toss around the bed, half awake, half dreaming… ” (O’Brien 77). Suppression of memory is a defense mechanism that Tim O’Brien used while dealing with the hardships of deciding if he should go to war.
Suppression was Just another step he took when spiraling into his madness. Through the psychoanalytic lens, Tim O’Brien showed signs of denial, suppression, and repression as defense mechanisms because he did not want to go to a war he did not believe in after being drafted for it. Tim O’Brien shows how mentally unstable and hard it is on ones body to try to forget about their own feelings and how mentally straining to is to deny any responsibility in one’s life’s reality. On the Rainy River is a great story to look at psychoanalytically because of the descent into madness that Tim O’Brien goes through and how he feared his own death.
He went on an adventure through the story both physically and spiritually. He embarked on a journey into his own underworld when he saw all the long dead and still to be alive people from his past and future on the shore telling him what he already knew he had to do. There is plenty of imagery throughout the story specifically in Barbarian’s description of the hallucinations that Tim O’Brien was having. Much of the story can directly relate back to key points of analyzing a story psychoanalytically and that is why this story was viewed from that perspective. “want It Salad, exactly, I don’t recall now, ( ” O’Brien