Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder

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Because of the Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder brought on by his recollections of the Vietnam War, John exhibits aggressive behavior. When under duress, he frequently becomes hostile and repeats the phrase "kill Jesus" (O'Brien 54). A post-PTSD symptom that manifests during times of extreme duress is aggression. He chose to wed his wife and start a family, which allowed him to feel less stressed, but the memories of the war continued to affect him years after it was over. He wishes to forget the massacre in My Lai, just like every other soldier who took part in the war's killings. He conceals it because he thinks he can go on with his existence. However, it haunts him in the relationship with his wife. He cannot be gentle with her as a man ought to. The aggression in war transforms him to be a warrior, always ready to attack and defend himself.

O’Brien tells the story of Jade to show a similar experience that he had as a war veteran. In the Lake of the Woods novel is the story of war and the effects of war on the soldiers and their families. Veterans of Vietnam War are known to act violently and aggressively even to their loved ones. John’s aggressive behavior is seen in the way he relates to other people including his wife. O’Brien states in the novel “he’d yell loud in his sleep,” which scared his wife, Kathy (75). She is afraid of him and keeps complaining of his high voice. This behavior makes her thinks he is crazy and hates her. One of the incidents where Wade unintentionally shows aggression is when he wakes up with his hands on Kathy’s neck. John’s aggressive behavior originates from his training and execution of orders during the Vietnam War. They were prepared to kill women and children in Vietnam because of the fear instilled in them by their peers. During the war, Wade and his comrades kill without mercy and obey orders of their seniors. Although he desires to be a good man, John endures a lot and opts to lie about himself. The Vietnam War is a confirmation that American soldiers are capable of doing horrors when facing an enemy in battle. The death of Americans in combat traumatized the peers back home, so the soldiers thought it would be appropriate to retaliate. The Massacre at My Lai shows how far soldiers are willing to go when no one is checking what they do (O’Brien 261). Some soldiers enjoyed murdering the civilians, while others stayed away from this and did not participate in the massacre. John reacted to fear, combat, and reflex by killing the enemy. However, he never killed to satisfy a hidden desire to do it. He committed crimes to be accepted by his comrades.

Although John left Vietnam, the war remained in him. He cannot escape his past and must confront it by making its disagreeable memories disappear. Kathy seems to have given up on her husband John knowing that she cannot deal with his experiences in Vietnam. She is the victim of her husband’s aggression (O’Brien 142). John suffered hardship in his early life; the Vietnam War was the major influencer in his life. It stirred what his father started during his struggles as a young man. Paul Wade’s aggressive behavior after the war makes John vulnerable to aggression. He endures hardship and became numb to emotions and feelings. He cannot love his wife as he expected. Their life is full of secrets of war, things he could not freely discuss with his spouse. He had been in the company of aggressive men ready to kill the enemy and go back home victorious. He chose the path of war to please his family, knowing that they would be proud of him. The American soldiers did not show mercy to the civilians in Vietnam. They killed children and women. The kind of aggression shown by O’Brien was enough to stir the inward aggressiveness that was potentially waiting to manifest in John’s life.

O’Brien leaves it up to his readers to determine whether the cause of Kathy’s death has anything to do with John’s haunting memories of Vietnam or not. John is the target of suspicion because of the aggressive behavior he displays in the period that he married his wife. While in Vietnam, he kills an American soldier and a Vietnamese man (O’Brien 136). The memories of these killings would latter cause him to be aggressive to his wife Kathy to the point of death.

In conclusion, O’Brien’s creation shows that John Wade’s aggression was a result if the Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) arising from the memories of the war in Vietnam. The My Lai massacre had an impact on him and caused his stress levels to rise. Whenever he is stressed beyond his control, John wade shouts “kill Jesus” (O’Brien 54). His wife is the victim of his aggression and cannot have quiet nights with him. He hallucinates and lives as though the Vietnam War is still part of him.

Work Cited

O’Brien, Tim. In the Lake of the Woods. Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 2006.

June 19, 2023

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