Going After Cacciato

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A religious, highly moral soldier who serves in the same battalion as Paul Berlin, Jim Pederson is regarded as the voice of right and wrong among his fellow soldiers: he’s shown to be more ambivalent than most about the soldiers’ actions, and protests when the soldiers propose burning a Vietnamese village. Pederson is wounded during his time in Vietnam, and is taken to a hospital, where his fate is left unclear.

Jim Pederson Quotes in Going After Cacciato

The Going After Cacciato quotes below are all either spoken by Jim Pederson or refer to Jim Pederson . For each quote, you can also see the other characters and themes related to it (each theme is indicated by its own dot and icon, like this one:
Fantasy, Magical Realism, and Storytelling Theme Icon
). Note: all page and citation info for the quotes below refers to the Broadway Books edition of Going After Cacciato published in 1999.
Chapter 11 Quotes

They spent the night along the Song Tra Bong. They bathed in the river and made camp and ate supper. When it was night they began talking about Jim Pederson. It was always better to talk about it.

Related Characters: Jim Pederson
Page Number: 79
Explanation and Analysis:

As the novel unfolds, it becomes clear that Berlin and his fellow soldiers are hiding something. Having fought in one of the bloodiest wars in American history, they've seen tremendous death and destruction; they've also committed acts of violence against innocent civilians, as well as against their own peers. In other words, every soldier in the army is living in a state of constant guilt and fear.

O'Brien, who served in Vietnam himself, is very perceptive about how soldiers deal with their pain. The best therapy is talking: by keeping their feelings bottled up, the soldiers run the risk of cracking under the pressure of keeping their own tragic secrets. Through conversation and gallows humor, the soldiers find an outlet for their feelings, which allows them to regain a sense of solidarity and community, and remember that they're not the only ones feeling guilty and anxious.

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Jim Pederson Character Timeline in Going After Cacciato

The timeline below shows where the character Jim Pederson appears in Going After Cacciato. The colored dots and icons indicate which themes are associated with that appearance.
Chapter 11
Vietnam and the Chaos of War Theme Icon
Obligation vs. Escape Theme Icon
Discontinuity and Trauma Theme Icon
Survival and Self-Preservation Theme Icon
...with Doc Peret trying and failing to save the life of a wounded soldier, Jim Pederson. A helicopter arrives and carries Pederson’s body away while the soldiers watch. The soldiers are... (full context)
Fantasy, Magical Realism, and Storytelling Theme Icon
Discontinuity and Trauma Theme Icon
Survival and Self-Preservation Theme Icon
Paul Berlin marches alongside his fellow soldiers, trying not to think about what’s happened to Pederson. As he marches, his lieutenant—not named at this point—uses the radio to order a strike... (full context)
Chapter 22
Vietnam and the Chaos of War Theme Icon
Obligation vs. Escape Theme Icon
Discontinuity and Trauma Theme Icon
Survival and Self-Preservation Theme Icon
The next soldier the narrator describes is Jim Pederson. Pederson carries rosary beads wherever he goes, and tries to pass on Christianity to the... (full context)
Chapter 34
Fantasy, Magical Realism, and Storytelling Theme Icon
Obligation vs. Escape Theme Icon
Discontinuity and Trauma Theme Icon
Survival and Self-Preservation Theme Icon
...a grenade from his belt and tells the soldiers that “it’s all about preservation.” Jim Pederson points out that the soldiers could wait for Martin to emerge from the tunnel, and... (full context)
Chapter 45
Vietnam and the Chaos of War Theme Icon
Obligation vs. Escape Theme Icon
Discontinuity and Trauma Theme Icon
Survival and Self-Preservation Theme Icon
...looking out on the water. He thinks about the “facts.” Buff, Ready Mix, Rudy Chassler, Pederson, Frenchie Tucker, Bernie Lynn, and Sidney Martin are all dead. (full context)