Role does language play
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The emotional immaturity of the GI’s in Vietnam makes it imperative that they find ways to cope with the killing of enemies and the dying of friends. O’Brien writes, “They used a hard vocabulary to contain the terrible softness.” (Page 20) The soldiers within a platoon formed intimate relationships, but when death occurred language helped trivialize those bonds to make the separation less painful. They used words like greased, zapped, offed, lit up, to describe the deaths of their friends. When Ted Lavender died, the soldiers in his platoon talked as if it were the tranquilizers that had killed him - blew his mind. They way they described it in the stories he didn’t feel a thing. O’Brien remembers how, earlier in his life when Linda had died, Nick Vorheen had described it as ‘kicking the bucket’. Language is a coping mechanism, a way of making things less painful, or less real.