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Going After Cacciato by Tim OBrien

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Winner of the 1979 National Book Award, Going After Cacciato captures the peculiar mixture of horror and hallucination that marked this strangest of wars.

In a blend of reality and fantasy, this novel tells the story of a young soldier who one day lays down his rifle and sets off on a quixotic journey from the jungles of Indochina to the streets of Paris. In its memorable evocation of men both fleeing from and meeting the demands of battle, Going After Cacciato stands as much more than just a great war novel. Ultimately its about the forces of fear and heroism that do battle in the hearts of us all.
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Going After Cacciato

Get all the key plot points of Tim O'Brien's Going After Cacciato on one page. From the creators of SparkNotes.
Tim O'Brien

Going After Cacciato Summary

Paul Berlin is an average American boy from the Midwest, who is been sent to Vietnam in , and on his first day, a man in his platoon dies of fright. Paul Berlin begins to use his imagination to deal with the horrors of war, and a major split from reality begins when another platoon member, Cacciato, deserts and a squad is sent out to capture him. The story jumps from present to past, and from Paul Berlin's imaginary observation post to Paul Berlin's imaginary trip to Paris. The timelines diverge in September, when the squad is chasing Cacciato before he makes it into Laos. At that point, Paul Berlin's imagination takes the squad on a long journey to Paris to chase Cacciato. In reality, Paul Berlin's experience in the war begins on his first day when Billy Boy Watkins steps on a land mind and dies of fright.

These notes were contributed by members of the GradeSaver community. The novel begins with the description of a group of soldiers gone to war. One of the soldiers who disappear in Cacciato and his friend, Paul Berlin , claims that Cacciato went to Paris. The Lieutenant decides to send the squad in which Cacciato was to look for him. The squad sees Cacciato after a few days of walking and Lieutenant Corson insists on going after him even though he is very sick.

It won the U. National Book Award for Fiction. This complex novel is set during the Vietnam War and is told from the third person limited point of view of the protagonist , Paul Berlin. Typical of many stories that deal with themes of psychological trauma , Going After Cacciato contains distinct ambiguities concerning the nature and order of events that occur. The chronology is nonlinear for most of the book.

Going After Cacciato cuts back and forth between several different time periods, all of which are seen from the perspective of a young, inexperienced soldier named Paul Berlin. As the novel begins, Berlin and his fellow soldiers are in the midst of a brutal war in Vietnam.
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Soldiers in Vietnam

Post-traumatic stress disorder is a common disease among war veterans. Sometimes it is hard for soldiers to separate reality from war after something as life threatening and difficult as a combat zone. Sometimes soldiers can cope with the stress by looking back and reflecting on what happened, or possibly by mentally covering it up. The fantasies he created to help him deal with the war and how he would be seen back home, the time sequence he remembered and dealt with the facts in, and exactly how all of this helped him cope and sort out what he had seen will prove just how tough Berlin is just by looking at evidence from the book. The murder of the Lieutenant was something very difficult to deal with. Especially for someone caught in the middle of a war, trying to figure out what is right and wrong to do, not only morally, but in simple decisions as well. One quote from the book helped him deal with this.

Paul Berlin is an average American boy from the Midwest, who has been sent to Vietnam in , and on his first day, a man in his platoon dies of fright. Paul Berlin begins to use his imagination to deal with the horrors of war, and a major split from reality begins when another platoon member, Cacciato, deserts and a squad is sent out to capture him. The squad is staying at a deserted pagoda, Lt. Corson is suffering from dysentery. Doc Peret comes into the pagoda and tells Lt. Corson that Cacciato has told Paul Berlin he is going to walk to Paris.

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