Going After Cacciato

Pdf fan Tap here to download this LitChart! (PDF)

Paul Berlin Character Analysis

The protagonist of Going After Cacciato, Paul Berlin is a young, inexperienced soldier who spends the majority of the novel struggling with his own conflicted feelings about war, violence, his family, and his peers. In the main plotline of the novel, in which the soldiers chase Cacciato to Paris, Berlin strikes up a romance with Sarkin Aung Wan, but this quickly devolves when it becomes clear that Sarkin is only using Berlin to survive. We learn that Berlin has a poor relationship with his parents—but he refuses to admit it, and even tells himself repeatedly that he loves his parents to condition himself to believe a better version of reality. As the novel moves on, it becomes increasingly clear that the main plotline of the book is being imagined and fantasized about by Berlin, as he keeps watch at night over a seaside town in Vietnam. At the end of the book, we discover why Berlin feels the need to fantasize about chasing Cacciato: he was responsible for accidentally firing the shots that killed Cacciato in Vietnam. For all his youth and experience, Berlin is one of the only characters in the book who recognizes the power of storytelling: he uses his fantastic, unbelievable stories as a form of therapy, pushing himself to trade the ugly truth for a better, more optimistic version of events.

Paul Berlin Quotes in Going After Cacciato

The Going After Cacciato quotes below are all either spoken by Paul Berlin or refer to Paul Berlin . 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 1 Quotes

Paul Berlin watched through the glasses as Cacciato's mouth opened and closed and opened, but there was only more thunder. And the arms kept flapping, faster now and less deliberate, wide-spanning winging motions—flying, Paul Berlin suddenly realized. Awkward, unpracticed, but still

flying.

Related Characters: Paul Berlin , Cacciato
Page Number: 12
Explanation and Analysis:
O’Brien here sets the surreal, rather confusing tone of his novel. Paul Berlin, a young soldier fighting in the Vietnam War, has been tasked with following Cacciato, a mysterious soldier who’s apparently deserting the army. As Paul tries to track down his former peer, he finds Cacciato moving through the plains of Vietnam, apparently flying. O’Brien never entirely explains whether this scene is real or imagined. Berlin is portrayed as an unreliable narrator with an active fantasy life, but it’s also possible that the novel itself—not Berlin—is meant to be fantastic and unrealistic. O’Brien chooses to write his novel in such a way—blurring the line between fantasy and reality—because he feels that such a book is the only honest way to deliver an account of the Vietnam War. In Vietnam, many American soldiers like Paul Berlin confronted unspeakable horrors and sustained deep psychological wounds, eventually, they could no longer distinguish between nightmare and the real world. The sight of Cacciato stretching his “wings” and trying to fly conveys the soldiers’ frantic desire for freedom and escape in a way that a totally realistic novel could never manage.
A+

Unlock explanations and citation info for this and every other Going After Cacciato quote.

Plus so much more...

Get LitCharts A+
Already a LitCharts A+ member? Sign in!
Chapter 5 Quotes

He would go to Europe. That's what he would do. Spend some time in Fort Dodge then take off for a tour of Europe. He would learn French. Learn French, then take off for Paris, and when he got there he would drink red wine in Cacciato's honor.

Related Characters: Paul Berlin , Cacciato
Related Symbols: Paris
Page Number: 48
Explanation and Analysis:

In this scene, Paul Berlin, stationed on a beach, imagines escaping from his duty in Vietnam and traveling to Europe, where he dreams of leading a leisurely, sensual life of wine and women. O’Brien keeps returning to the image of Berlin sitting on the beach, and at first, it’s unclear when, exactly, Berlin is sitting there. But as the novel goes on, it becomes clearer that Berlin is remembering—and at times, fantasizing—about a search for Cacciato in which he participated recently.

Perhaps the key phrase in this section is “in Cacciato’s honor.” For Berlin, Cacciato (and Paris, the city with which he's associated) is a symbol of escape from the terrors of Vietnam: although Berlin and his fellow soldiers have been tasked with capturing Cacciato, they secretly regard him as something of a hero for finding a way out of the nightmarish world in which they’re trapped.

Chapter 10 Quotes

Then they were falling. Paul Berlin felt it in his stomach. A tumbling sensation. There was time to snatch for Sarkin Aung Wan's hand, squeeze tight, and then they were falling. The road was gone and they were simply falling, all of them, Oscar and Eddie and Doc, the old lieutenant, the buffalo and the cart and the old women, everything, tumbling down a hole in the road to Paris.

Related Characters: Paul Berlin , Lieutenant Corson , Sarkin Aung Wan , Oscar Johnson , Eddie Lazzutti
Related Symbols: Paris, Tunnels
Page Number: 76
Explanation and Analysis:

Paul Berlin and his fellow soldiers have stumbled upon a secret Vietcong lair, which may or may not be booby-trapped. Berlin and his fellow soldiers fall underneath the ground, though O'Brien never describes exactly how. It's left up to us to decide whether the episode is real or imagined: certainly, American soldiers encountered more surreal spectacles during their service in the war (and the Vietcong did have a complex system of tunnels during the war), and yet O'Brien depicts the soldiers' fall underground in fantastical terms that echo Lewis Carroll's Alice in Wonderland, making us wonder if the entire scene is a dream or hallucination of some kind.

The soldiers' fall is deliberately paralleled with Cacciato's flight: Cacciato is slowly freeing himself from his duty to the military, while his fellow soldiers find themselves mired in the horrors of war. Once again, the soldiers associate Paris with peace, escape, and tranquility--and the hole into which they have fallen delays their journey to Paris. (Of course, it's worth noting that the peace and prosperity of Paris comes in part from the exploitation of poorer countries and its former colonies like Vietnam--surely a deliberate choice of symbol on O'Brien's part.)

Chapter 15 Quotes

Sarkin Aung Wan uncurled her legs and stood up.
"There is a way," she said.
The lieutenant kept studying his hands. The fingers trembled.
"The way in is the way out."
Li Van Hgoc laughed but the girl ignored it.
"The way in," she repeated, "is the way out. To flee Xa one must join it. To go home one must become a refugee."
"Riddles!" Li Van Hgoc spat. "Insane!"
Sarkin Aung Wan took Paul Berlin's hand. "Do you see?" she said. "You do need me."

Related Characters: Sarkin Aung Wan (speaker), Li Van Hgoc / Van (speaker), Paul Berlin , Lieutenant Corson
Related Symbols: Tunnels
Page Number: 97
Explanation and Analysis:

Sarkin, who is still trapped underground with Paul Berlin and the other soldiers, offers some ambiguous wisdom in this passage: "the way in is the way out." Sarkin thinks that she has a way of escaping the tunnels--even though Hgoc, who's been around for far longer, denies any possibility of escape.

It's hard to take Sarkin's words literally (by this point in the novel, we're so confused about the tunnels that we don't know what to believe). But on a symbolic level, Sarkin's pronouncement has a lot to say about the soldiers' state of mind. Traumatized by war, Berlin and his friends are trying to return "home"--both in the sense that they're trying to make it back to the U.S. in one piece, and in the sense that they're trying to preserve their sanity. Just as Sarkin implies, in order to savor one's home, one must first become an outsider. We see this through Paul Berlin's behavior: not too long ago, he was a frustrated young man, eager to leave his home and fight in the army--now, however, he's desperate to return to the homeland and state of innocence he left behind. In short, Sarkin's ideas reflect the soldiers' broken-down, yet strangely optimistic, worldview.

Chapter 16 Quotes

Then they were out of the water, regrouping, moving up the clay path into Trinh Son 2. Paul Berlin's head roared with quiet. Splitting—but he moved into the dark village. When Rudy Chassler hit the mine, the noise was muffled, almost fragile, but it was a relief for all of them.

Related Characters: Paul Berlin , Rudy Chassler
Page Number: 110
Explanation and Analysis:

Early in their time in Vietnam, Paul and the other soldiers are bored and restless. Secretly, they want something to happen. One day, the soldier Rudy Chassler steps on a land mine, killing himself--and the other soldiers are secretly relieved. In some way, the tension of waiting and being afraid is worse than actual violence and danger.

Disturbing as the passage is, it points to the anxieties of being a soldier in the Vietnam War. Many of the men and women who saw active duty in the conflict suffered from post-traumatic stress disorder, a condition which left them unable to cope with normal life after the war. Some of the soldiers who suffered from PTSD reported wanting to return to war, since Vietnam represented the last time when they felt they had some control over their lives. Berlin and his fellow soldiers define themselves in terms of war--an event like Rudy Chassler's death, as tragic as it might be, marks their only way of finding a kind of meaning and "resolution."

Chapter 18 Quotes

But who was he? Tender-complected, plump, large slanted eyes and flesh like paste. The images were fuzzy. Paul Berlin remembered separate things that refused to blend together. Whistling on ambush. Always chewing gum. The smiling. Fat, slow, going bald, young. Rapt, willing to do the hard stuff. And dumb. Dumb as milk. A case of gross tomfoolery.
Then he spotted Cacciato.
"That's him," he said. A bit of pastry clogged his throat. He looked again, swallowed—"That's him!"

Related Characters: Paul Berlin (speaker), Cacciato
Page Number: 120
Explanation and Analysis:

In this scene, Berlin and the other soldiers have tracked Cacciato to the city of Mandalay. As Berlin walks through town, eating food, he's amazed to see Cacciato walking through the streets, dressed as a monk. Berlin describes Cacciato as a child, or even a baby--fat, bald, smiling, chewing, etc. Indeed, Cacciato seems completely innocent of the crimes he's witnessed in Vietnam: Paul and his fellow soldiers are men, but Cacciato is portrayed as something like a child, blissfully (and enviably) unaware of the horrors of war. 

It's interesting that Berlin's recollections of Cacciato ("bald, young") arrive before he sees Cacciato, not immediately afterwards. Perhaps O'Brien is suggesting that Berlin is imagining Cacciato. Since it's already been implied that Berlin is imagining the entire mission to hunt down Cacciato, one could describe this passage as an imaginary encounter within an imaginary encounter. As the quest to track down Cacciato goes on, reality blurs to the point where every event feels like a dream, or a projection of Berlin's psychology.

Chapter 24 Quotes

"Crazy," Oscar said. He kept wagging his head. "Over an' out."
It made Paul Berlin feel good. Like buddies. Genuine war buddies, he felt close to all of them. When they laughed, he laughed.

Related Characters: Oscar Johnson (speaker), Paul Berlin
Page Number: 157
Explanation and Analysis:

In this passage, O'Brien shows how a young, inexperienced soldier bonds with his fellow troops. Paul Berlin and Oscar (a fellow soldier) have gone to take phone calls from their families back in the U.S. Berlin waits for Oscar, and when Oscar comes out of the phone room, he's looking very serious. Berlin then feels strangely close to Oscar--tragedy brings them together in sympathy and mutual respect.

O'Brien suggests that tragedy and trauma bring soldiers together, more than anything else. Paul and his fellow troops witness unspeakable tragedies. They're bound together for life by their experiences--they have nobody else to talk to about the things they've seen and done. Berlin has yet to fight in battle at this point, but he's already learning about how military bonding works--sadness is the "glue" that holds everyone together.

Chapter 29 Quotes

"There it is. The old man's suffering from an advanced case. Nostalgia, it comes from the Greek. I researched it: straight from the Greek. Algos means pain. Nostos means to return home. Nostalgia: the pain of returning home. And the ache that comes from thinking about it. See my drift? The old man's basic disease is homesickness. Nostalgia for the goddamned war, the army, the lifer's life. And the dysentery, the fever, it's just a symptom of the real sickness."
"So what do we do?"
"Time," Doc said. He put his glasses on. "It's the only antidote for nostalgia. Just give the man time."

Related Characters: Paul Berlin (speaker), Doc Peret (speaker), Lieutenant Corson
Page Number: 183-184
Explanation and Analysis:

The soldiers arrive in the city of Tehran, but their supposed leader, Lieutenant Corson, is almost incapable of leading anyone: he's an older, weak man, and he's pining for a woman named Jolly, whom he met in India. Doc make a slightly different, and rather contradictory claim: that Corson is suffering from nostalgia, the fear of leaving the army behind altogether and the fear of returning home. So it's not clear what Corson's problem really is: if he's sad about leaving something behind, or if he's afraid of returning, or both.

The passage represents one of the closest links between O'Brien's novel and Homer's Odyssey, the Greek epic poem that's often cited as a major influence on this novel. O'Brien writes about a group of old veterans trying to reach home once again; in the same way, Homer wrote about Odysseus and his group of veterans trying to return to their island of Ithaca. Doc's explanation that Corson needs "time" might also suggest that there's no true cure for a soldier's PTSD--Doc can only hope that the soldiers learn to readjust to civilian life.

Chapter 33 Quotes

There was great quiet. A very noisy quiet, Paul Berlin thought. He felt Oscar staring at him from across the room—a long, hard stare—as if to accuse. As if to say, Your fuckin dream, man. Now do something.
After a moment Doc Peret sighed. "Well," he said, "I guess it's time for some diplomatic pressure. By Uncle Sam, I mean. Time for Sammy to step in on our behalf."
The captain shook his head. "Sadly," he said, "that will not be possible. Certainly not productive. As I say, your government does not know you. Or chooses not to. In either case, I fear the outcome is the same."

Related Characters: Doc Peret (speaker), Captain Fahyi Rhallon (speaker), Paul Berlin , Oscar Johnson
Page Number: 228-229
Explanation and Analysis:

In this scene, Captain Rhallon--newly suspicious of Berlin and his fellow troops traveling through Iran--has the troops arrested and sentenced to be executed. Rhallon is as calm as ever, but this time there's no ambiguity in the air of menace he gives off: he's going to let his new "friends" be killed. And this time, Doc's bluffs of knowledge and control don't work--Rhallon knows full-well that Doc is lying about traveling through the country via the Geneva Codes.

Even at this dark moment in the text, there's a strong element of fantasy. Oscar stares as Paul Berlin as if to reference Paul's "dream"--a clear reminder of the possibly fictional nature of the entire story (it's later suggested that Paul is dreaming his mission as he sits on the beach). Rhallon's words, for all their menace, have some truth in them: the soldiers' government doesn't care about them. In fact, the U.S. government sent its soldiers into Vietnam to die--the government wanted its men to further its own causes in Vietnam, not escape to Paris.

Chapter 36 Quotes

So now he ran. A miracle, he thought, and he closed his eyes and made it happen.
And then a getaway car—why not? It was a night of miracles, and he was a miracle man. So why not? Yes, a car. Cacciato pointed at it, shouted something, then disappeared.

Related Characters: Paul Berlin (speaker), Cacciato
Page Number: 243
Explanation and Analysis:

In this dreamlike sequence of events, Paul and his fellow troops manage to break out of their prison cell in Tehran and make a run for it. No explanation is offered for how they're able to escape (they have a grenade, but it's not clear where they got it). After a certain point, O'Brien purposefully doesn't even try to make the scene seem realistic--for example, Paul seems to imagine a getaway car, and then sees one in real life. We're reminded that the entire episode--and the entire hunt for Cacciato--might be Paul's daydream in the first place, meaning that his "inventing" of a car is only one tiny part of the story he's dreamed up.

Chapter 40 Quotes

It would not have ended that way: cops and customs agents, defeat, arrested like wetbacks at the wharves of Western Civilization, captured within mindshot of the lighted Propylaea and Parthenon, nothing fulfilled, no answers, the whole expedition throttled just as it approached the promise of a rightful end. It wouldn't have happened that way. And it didn't.

Related Characters: Paul Berlin (speaker)
Page Number: 272
Explanation and Analysis:

Paul and his fellow soldiers are about to get arrested around Greece, and it seems that their long journey has finally come to an end. But just when we've given up all hope, Paul seems to "intervene" in the story, and he decides that "it would not have ended" in Greece--and thus he decides that the story is going to keep going.

The passage exemplifies a "deus ex machina" moment, in which a happy ending arises out of surprising, unexpected circumstances. The fantastical, self-referential quality of the passage reinforces that the entire story is seemingly being imagined by Paul, rather than lived out by real characters in the "history" of the novel. Paul refuses to allow a sad ending in his own fantasy. (At the same time, it's a mark of how miserable Paul's circumstances in Vietnam have become that it's so hard for him to imagine a happy ending for his own daydream.) In general, Paul--perhaps still trapped in Vietnam--seems to crave escape from his situation, and so he imagines an over-the-top story of the ultimate escape.

Chapter 44 Quotes

Spec Four Paul Berlin: I am asking for a break from violence. But I am also asking for a positive commitment. You yearn for normality—an average house in an average town, a garden, perhaps a wife, the chance to grow old. Realize these things. Give up this fruitless pursuit of Cacciato. Forget him. Live now the dream you have dreamed. See Paris and enjoy it. Be happy. It is possible. It is within reach of a single decision.”

Related Characters: Sarkin Aung Wan (speaker), Paul Berlin , Cacciato
Related Symbols: Paris
Page Number: 318
Explanation and Analysis:

In this passage, Sarkin Aung Wan asks her lover, Paul Berlin, to stay with her in Paris. Paul has reached a cross-roads: thus far, he could always pretend that he was following military orders by pursuing Cacciato to Paris, even when it was clear that he was really going to Paris to escape the war. Now, Paul and his friends are about to be chased out of the city: the authorities have finally caught up with them, and they know Paul is a deserter. Sarkin asks Paul to stay behind with her, risking arrest but also possibly gaining true happiness.

One should keep in mind that Sarkin might be an opportunist, more interested in having money and a nice apartment than in Paul himself. But in a sense, Sarkin is exactly right. Paul isn't just following his orders; he's choosing to have a difficult life. He obeys authorities and goes with the group, even when doing so makes him miserable and endangers his life.

Chapter 46 Quotes

"I guess it's better this way," the old man finally said. "There's worse things can happen. There's plenty of worse things."
"True enough, sir."
"And who knows? He might make it. He might do all right." The lieutenant's voice was flat like the land. "Miserable odds, but—"
"But maybe."
"Yes," the lieutenant said. "Maybe so."

Related Characters: Paul Berlin (speaker), Lieutenant Corson (speaker), Cacciato
Related Symbols: Paris
Page Number: 336
Explanation and Analysis:

In this final scene, a flashback to the beginning of the novel, Paul and Lieutenant Corson (who will eventually become rivals for Sarkin's love), discuss the possibility that Cacciato--who's just run away from the army--will succeed in reaching Paris. Strangely, both men agree that Cacciato very well might succeed in his quest, unlikely as it seems.

In a way, Cacciato's disappearance is meant to symbolize the soldiers' desire to survive the war in Vietnam--if Cacciato can make it all the way to Paris unharmed, then perhaps Paul, Corson, and the others can make it back to the U.S. sane and in one piece, too. The scene also reminds us that the novel we've just read might be the product of Paul's imagination--perhaps Cacciato is killed early on in his journey, but Paul continues imagining that Cacciato makes it away from the war and completes his unlikely odyssey to Paris. In the end, O'Brien leaves us with a cautious optimism--perhaps it's possible for the soldiers of this bloody, brutal war to survive while also maintaining their sanity--and perhaps it's hope, imagination, and fantasy that helps them do so.

Get the entire Going After Cacciato LitChart as a printable PDF.
Going after cacciato.pdf.medium

Paul Berlin Character Timeline in Going After Cacciato

The timeline below shows where the character Paul Berlin appears in Going After Cacciato. The colored dots and icons indicate which themes are associated with that appearance.
Chapter 1
Vietnam and the Chaos of War Theme Icon
Obligation vs. Escape Theme Icon
Survival and Self-Preservation Theme Icon
Corson calls Cacciato’s friend, Paul Berlin, to discuss Cacciato’s disappearance. Corson asks Berlin if it’s true that Cacciato has gone to... (full context)
Vietnam and the Chaos of War Theme Icon
Obligation vs. Escape Theme Icon
Survival and Self-Preservation Theme Icon
...down Cacciato. They make their way through the mountains and forests. Before too long, Paul Berlin spots Cacciato in the distance. He can see that Cacciato is tired and lonely-looking. The... (full context)
Fantasy, Magical Realism, and Storytelling Theme Icon
Obligation vs. Escape Theme Icon
Discontinuity and Trauma Theme Icon
Survival and Self-Preservation Theme Icon
...Cacciato. Cacciato turns, and seems to shout something back, but nobody can hear him. Paul Berlin pulls a pair of binoculars out of his bag and points them at Cacciato. Berlin... (full context)
Fantasy, Magical Realism, and Storytelling Theme Icon
Obligation vs. Escape Theme Icon
Survival and Self-Preservation Theme Icon
...Late that night—around 4 AM—the soldiers, unable to sleep, sit around talking about Cacciato. Paul Berlin tells Doc Peret that he hopes Cacciato keeps moving and escapes from the army for... (full context)
Fantasy, Magical Realism, and Storytelling Theme Icon
Obligation vs. Escape Theme Icon
Discontinuity and Trauma Theme Icon
The night proceeds, and Paul Berlin finds himself thinking about Cacciato. He imagines Cacciato being murdered: his skull exploding, throwing blood... (full context)
Fantasy, Magical Realism, and Storytelling Theme Icon
Obligation vs. Escape Theme Icon
The next day, the squad marches through the “unpolluted country” beyond the mountains. Paul Berlin secretly enjoys the silent, steady marching—it’s certainly preferable to his usual duties as a soldier.... (full context)
Fantasy, Magical Realism, and Storytelling Theme Icon
Vietnam and the Chaos of War Theme Icon
Obligation vs. Escape Theme Icon
Survival and Self-Preservation Theme Icon
...the soldiers jump to the ground, knowing that there will be an enormous explosion. Paul Berlin crouches on the ground, closing his eyes and waiting for the inevitable “Boom.” But no... (full context)
Fantasy, Magical Realism, and Storytelling Theme Icon
Survival and Self-Preservation Theme Icon
That night, Paul Berlin dreams about Cacciato walking through the country. He still wants to believe that Cacciato could... (full context)
Chapter 2
Fantasy, Magical Realism, and Storytelling Theme Icon
Discontinuity and Trauma Theme Icon
An unspecified amount of time after the events of the previous chapter, Paul Berlin lies on the ground, thinking about Cacciato. He is sitting in a large tower that... (full context)
Chapter 3
Vietnam and the Chaos of War Theme Icon
Survival and Self-Preservation Theme Icon
...and motions for his soldiers to continue marching toward Laos. As the soldiers continue, Paul Berlin becomes extremely tired. He falls back to walk alongside Oscar Johnson, his fellow soldier. Johnson... (full context)
Vietnam and the Chaos of War Theme Icon
Obligation vs. Escape Theme Icon
Survival and Self-Preservation Theme Icon
...by one, they cast ballots by writing down their decisions on pieces of paper. Paul Berlin votes to continue searching for Cacciato, winning the vote for the “go-aheads.” The next morning,... (full context)
Chapter 4
Vietnam and the Chaos of War Theme Icon
Survival and Self-Preservation Theme Icon
Paul Berlin thinks about his recent past as a soldier. He was first assigned to Chu Lai’s... (full context)
Vietnam and the Chaos of War Theme Icon
Survival and Self-Preservation Theme Icon
One morning during Berlin’s time at the Combat Center, he was marched to the bleachers, along with the other... (full context)
Vietnam and the Chaos of War Theme Icon
Survival and Self-Preservation Theme Icon
...Chu Lai participated in mock-drills, in which they were ordered to search and destroy villages. Berlin took these drills very seriously, since he thought he could die if he wasn’t well... (full context)
Vietnam and the Chaos of War Theme Icon
After a week of training, the soldiers are assigned to their units. Paul Berlin is assigned to the 5th Battalion, 46th Infantry, 198 Infantry Brigade. For every one soldier,... (full context)
Vietnam and the Chaos of War Theme Icon
Survival and Self-Preservation Theme Icon
Berlin remembers being a child and spending time camping with his father. His father, affectionately nicknamed... (full context)
Vietnam and the Chaos of War Theme Icon
Obligation vs. Escape Theme Icon
Discontinuity and Trauma Theme Icon
Survival and Self-Preservation Theme Icon
Berlin is driven to his new Infantry Brigade. There, an officer mockingly suggests that Berlin spend... (full context)
Vietnam and the Chaos of War Theme Icon
The chapter ends with Paul Berlin preparing for his first real day of the war—the day he’s sent out into the... (full context)
Chapter 5
Fantasy, Magical Realism, and Storytelling Theme Icon
Obligation vs. Escape Theme Icon
Discontinuity and Trauma Theme Icon
Survival and Self-Preservation Theme Icon
Some time after the events of Chapter Three, Paul Berlin stays up late at night to serve as a late-night guard. He keeps watch while... (full context)
Chapter 6
Fantasy, Magical Realism, and Storytelling Theme Icon
Discontinuity and Trauma Theme Icon
Survival and Self-Preservation Theme Icon
...rice with the three women. The aunts continue weeping for Nguyen. As everyone eats, Paul Berlin watches Sarkin, whom he finds very beautiful. He can’t place her age—she could be twelve,... (full context)
Chapter 7
Fantasy, Magical Realism, and Storytelling Theme Icon
Vietnam and the Chaos of War Theme Icon
Obligation vs. Escape Theme Icon
Survival and Self-Preservation Theme Icon
...they have the aunts’ remaining buffalo pulling some of them in a cart. During Paul Berlin’s time in the cart, he gets to know Sarkin Aung Wan better. He likes her... (full context)
Obligation vs. Escape Theme Icon
Survival and Self-Preservation Theme Icon
...aunts weep for Nguyen. Sarkin does not cry. One day, while she’s walking with Paul Berlin, she asks him if they’re traveling to Paris. Berlin replies that they might be—anything is... (full context)
Fantasy, Magical Realism, and Storytelling Theme Icon
Obligation vs. Escape Theme Icon
Survival and Self-Preservation Theme Icon
Shortly after Berlin’s conversation with Sarkin, Berlin asks Lieutenant Corson about keeping Sarkin around as a guide—she could... (full context)
Discontinuity and Trauma Theme Icon
Shortly after Corson and Berlin’s conversation, the narrator explains, the soldiers “capture Cacciato.” It remains to be seen how this... (full context)
Chapter 8
Vietnam and the Chaos of War Theme Icon
Discontinuity and Trauma Theme Icon
Survival and Self-Preservation Theme Icon
It is 1 AM, and Paul Berlin, is keeping watch in the seaside military fort of Quang Ngai. The year is left... (full context)
Fantasy, Magical Realism, and Storytelling Theme Icon
Discontinuity and Trauma Theme Icon
Survival and Self-Preservation Theme Icon
Back in the fort, Berlin remembers his father, who once advised him to “look out for the good things, too”... (full context)
Chapter 10
Fantasy, Magical Realism, and Storytelling Theme Icon
Obligation vs. Escape Theme Icon
Survival and Self-Preservation Theme Icon
In the evening, the soldiers prepare for their walk through the jungle. Paul Berlin finds Sarkin and tells her that they’ll have to let her go soon. Sarkin begs... (full context)
Fantasy, Magical Realism, and Storytelling Theme Icon
Vietnam and the Chaos of War Theme Icon
Obligation vs. Escape Theme Icon
Discontinuity and Trauma Theme Icon
Survival and Self-Preservation Theme Icon
...slowly, so that they spend as much time with the women as possible. Sarkin squeezes Berlin’s hand and whispers, “You will find a way.” Then Lieutenant Corson swats the buffalo, signaling... (full context)
Chapter 11
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... (full context)
Chapter 12
Fantasy, Magical Realism, and Storytelling Theme Icon
Discontinuity and Trauma Theme Icon
Survival and Self-Preservation Theme Icon
The chapter continues the events described in Chapter Eight. Paul Berlin continues keeping watch. He wonders how it’s possible to be brave when “biles” are flowing... (full context)
Chapter 13
Fantasy, Magical Realism, and Storytelling Theme Icon
Discontinuity and Trauma Theme Icon
Survival and Self-Preservation Theme Icon
Following the events of Chapter 11, Berlin and his fellow soldiers have fallen through the ground into a bizarre hole. Berlin reflexively... (full context)
Fantasy, Magical Realism, and Storytelling Theme Icon
Discontinuity and Trauma Theme Icon
Survival and Self-Preservation Theme Icon
Suddenly, Berlin hears a noise and turns—he finds himself crouching on the ground, looking at Oscar Johnson,... (full context)
Fantasy, Magical Realism, and Storytelling Theme Icon
Discontinuity and Trauma Theme Icon
Survival and Self-Preservation Theme Icon
The soldiers look around, Berlin still giggling. They are standing in a large network of tunnels, lighted with torches. Suspecting... (full context)
Fantasy, Magical Realism, and Storytelling Theme Icon
Obligation vs. Escape Theme Icon
Survival and Self-Preservation Theme Icon
...living enemy—everyone else on the opposing side of the war died almost as soon as Berlin saw them. Berlin’s mind then jumps to Bernie Lynn, who won the Silver Star for... (full context)
Fantasy, Magical Realism, and Storytelling Theme Icon
Vietnam and the Chaos of War Theme Icon
Survival and Self-Preservation Theme Icon
...takes the soldiers to a periscope with a view of the surface. He motions for Berlin to look through the periscope. Berlin does so, but can’t understand what he’s looking at.... (full context)
Chapter 15
Fantasy, Magical Realism, and Storytelling Theme Icon
Survival and Self-Preservation Theme Icon
The chapter begins almost immediately after the events of Chapter 13. Berlin peers through a periscope and Li Van Hgoc, who’s standing beside him, explains what he’s... (full context)
Fantasy, Magical Realism, and Storytelling Theme Icon
Discontinuity and Trauma Theme Icon
Sarkin leads the soldiers through the tunnels. Time stretches on, and Berlin isn’t sure if the soldiers are spending hours or days in the tunnels. They go... (full context)
Chapter 16
Fantasy, Magical Realism, and Storytelling Theme Icon
Obligation vs. Escape Theme Icon
Survival and Self-Preservation Theme Icon
...along a great river, the Song Tra Bong. Frenchie Tucker is still alive, and Paul Berlin keeps busy writing letters to his parents. He writes that life is good and easy—the... (full context)
Vietnam and the Chaos of War Theme Icon
Discontinuity and Trauma Theme Icon
Survival and Self-Preservation Theme Icon
The soldiers play pickup basketball with each other. Paul Berlin enjoys the games, but feels a deep sense of unease. The village seems calm, but... (full context)
Chapter 17
Vietnam and the Chaos of War Theme Icon
Discontinuity and Trauma Theme Icon
Survival and Self-Preservation Theme Icon
...sewage, until they come to a ladder that leads to the streets of Mandalay. Paul Berlin walks through Mandalay with his fellow soldiers and mutters, “civilization.” Oscar Johnson notes that Mandalay... (full context)
Vietnam and the Chaos of War Theme Icon
Discontinuity and Trauma Theme Icon
Survival and Self-Preservation Theme Icon
The narrative cuts ahead a few more hours. Paul Berlin is sitting in a hotel room with Sarkin Aung Wan, who is clipping his toenails.... (full context)
Vietnam and the Chaos of War Theme Icon
Obligation vs. Escape Theme Icon
Survival and Self-Preservation Theme Icon
The next morning, the soldiers leave their hotel and begin searching Mandalay for Cacciato. Berlin searches with Sarkin to help him, and he navigates through markets, churches, etc. Berlin feels... (full context)
Chapter 18
Fantasy, Magical Realism, and Storytelling Theme Icon
Discontinuity and Trauma Theme Icon
...up early in the Minneapolis Hotel, begin searching the city, then return to sleep. Paul Berlin is particularly confused by the new routine, and he can’t imagine where Cacciato could be.... (full context)
Fantasy, Magical Realism, and Storytelling Theme Icon
Discontinuity and Trauma Theme Icon
One day, Berlin and Sarkin are walking through Mandalay when Berlin—much to his amazement—sees Cacciato walking less than... (full context)
Fantasy, Magical Realism, and Storytelling Theme Icon
Obligation vs. Escape Theme Icon
Discontinuity and Trauma Theme Icon
Survival and Self-Preservation Theme Icon
Berlin approaches Cacciato, now standing at the center of the crowd. The air smells of incense,... (full context)
Fantasy, Magical Realism, and Storytelling Theme Icon
Obligation vs. Escape Theme Icon
Discontinuity and Trauma Theme Icon
Survival and Self-Preservation Theme Icon
When Berlin wakes up, he’s lying alone in a park, with Sarkin standing over him. Sarkin explains... (full context)
Chapter 19
Fantasy, Magical Realism, and Storytelling Theme Icon
Obligation vs. Escape Theme Icon
Discontinuity and Trauma Theme Icon
Survival and Self-Preservation Theme Icon
...3 AM, following the events of Chapter 12 (beyond this, the time is unspecified). Paul Berlin imagines telling his friends and family the story of how Cacciato walked to Paris. He... (full context)
Chapter 20
Vietnam and the Chaos of War Theme Icon
Obligation vs. Escape Theme Icon
Survival and Self-Preservation Theme Icon
The chapter begins near the start of Paul Berlin’s time in the army, with the soldiers sitting in a helicopter. Everyone is nervous, and... (full context)
Chapter 21
Fantasy, Magical Realism, and Storytelling Theme Icon
Obligation vs. Escape Theme Icon
Discontinuity and Trauma Theme Icon
Survival and Self-Preservation Theme Icon
It is 2 AM, December 1968, and Paul Berlin is sitting on a train, the Delhi Express, traveling away from Mandalay to Chittagong. The... (full context)
Fantasy, Magical Realism, and Storytelling Theme Icon
Discontinuity and Trauma Theme Icon
...the aisle, waiting for Cacciato to run away, while the other soldiers search the cars. Berlin proceeds through the train, asking people for identification. Most of the passengers comply, but they... (full context)
Chapter 22
Obligation vs. Escape Theme Icon
Survival and Self-Preservation Theme Icon
...it all the time. Nevertheless, every letter he writes is sent to Maine—never Michigan. Paul Berlin is fascinated with Johnson—he thinks that Johnson is half performing, half being, to the point... (full context)
Chapter 23
Fantasy, Magical Realism, and Storytelling Theme Icon
Survival and Self-Preservation Theme Icon
...studied at Johns Hopkins for two years, and knows American culture well. As Jolly talks, Berlin is reminded of his own mother, for reasons he can’t entirely explain. Jolly has a... (full context)
Discontinuity and Trauma Theme Icon
The evening goes on, and Berlin spends time with Sarkin, drinking brandy and kissing her neck. Meanwhile, Corson is still talking... (full context)
Fantasy, Magical Realism, and Storytelling Theme Icon
Discontinuity and Trauma Theme Icon
...soldiers speculate that Corson has slept with Jolly, and say that Jolly is a “phony.” Berlin goes for a walk. He returns in the afternoon and notices Corson sitting with Jolly... (full context)
Chapter 24
Fantasy, Magical Realism, and Storytelling Theme Icon
Discontinuity and Trauma Theme Icon
Survival and Self-Preservation Theme Icon
It is August, and Paul Berlin’s platoon travels to Chu Lai for a “stand-down” that will last one week. The soldiers... (full context)
Fantasy, Magical Realism, and Storytelling Theme Icon
Survival and Self-Preservation Theme Icon
On the soldiers’ last day of stand-down, Eddie, Doc, Paul Berlin, and Oscar walk to the 82nd Commo Detachment, where the soldiers keep the army’s radio... (full context)
Vietnam and the Chaos of War Theme Icon
Obligation vs. Escape Theme Icon
Discontinuity and Trauma Theme Icon
Survival and Self-Preservation Theme Icon
...out of the soundproof rooms looking choked up, as if their calls have been tragic. Berlin feels mature as he looks at Doc and Oscar—he and his friends are “genuine war... (full context)
Fantasy, Magical Realism, and Storytelling Theme Icon
Discontinuity and Trauma Theme Icon
Survival and Self-Preservation Theme Icon
Berlin goes to place his call. Inside the soundproof room, he places a call to his... (full context)
Chapter 25
Obligation vs. Escape Theme Icon
Survival and Self-Preservation Theme Icon
During Berlin’s early days as a soldier, Lieutenant Sidney Martin orders his soldiers through the mountains. There... (full context)
Obligation vs. Escape Theme Icon
Survival and Self-Preservation Theme Icon
...strength for the fighting—a difficult task, since walking through the mountains requires enormous energy. Paul Berlin—still an inexperienced soldier—notes that Martin seems not to enjoy battles. He has a handsome, refined... (full context)
Fantasy, Magical Realism, and Storytelling Theme Icon
Obligation vs. Escape Theme Icon
Survival and Self-Preservation Theme Icon
Paul Berlin proceeds with climbing through the mountains, unsure of what will be waiting for him on... (full context)
Chapter 26
Vietnam and the Chaos of War Theme Icon
Discontinuity and Trauma Theme Icon
Survival and Self-Preservation Theme Icon
...Chapter 23. The soldiers are still in Delhi, and Cacciato is nowhere in sight. Paul Berlin spends nearly all of his time with Sarkin. They go shopping for clothing and jewelry,... (full context)
Discontinuity and Trauma Theme Icon
Survival and Self-Preservation Theme Icon
One day, Corson shows Berlin a copy of the local newspaper. Amazingly, there is a photograph of Cacciato on the... (full context)
Chapter 27
Obligation vs. Escape Theme Icon
Discontinuity and Trauma Theme Icon
Survival and Self-Preservation Theme Icon
Paul Berlin watches Corson smoke his cigarette, and thinks back to his own experiences earlier in the... (full context)
Fantasy, Magical Realism, and Storytelling Theme Icon
Vietnam and the Chaos of War Theme Icon
Discontinuity and Trauma Theme Icon
Survival and Self-Preservation Theme Icon
...The mayor tells the soldiers that “God’s will is always stronger than man’s will.” Paul Berlin is especially fascinated by the mayor—a charismatic, mysterious man. The mayor stares at Berlin, and... (full context)
Chapter 28
Fantasy, Magical Realism, and Storytelling Theme Icon
Vietnam and the Chaos of War Theme Icon
Discontinuity and Trauma Theme Icon
Survival and Self-Preservation Theme Icon
Berlin thinks about what the mayor has told him. He thinks to himself that he does... (full context)
Chapter 29
Vietnam and the Chaos of War Theme Icon
Obligation vs. Escape Theme Icon
Discontinuity and Trauma Theme Icon
Survival and Self-Preservation Theme Icon
...drives through the crowd, very slowly. Doc seems to understand what’s happening, and he tells Berlin to watch closely. A police officer emerges from the van, leading behind him a young... (full context)
Fantasy, Magical Realism, and Storytelling Theme Icon
Discontinuity and Trauma Theme Icon
Survival and Self-Preservation Theme Icon
Berlin watches, unable to look away, as the young man’s head is pushed to a block.... (full context)
Fantasy, Magical Realism, and Storytelling Theme Icon
Vietnam and the Chaos of War Theme Icon
Obligation vs. Escape Theme Icon
Discontinuity and Trauma Theme Icon
As the other soldiers dance and argue, Paul Berlin dances with Sarkin. Berlin overhears Doc telling Captain Rhallon “the ultimate war story”—the story of... (full context)
Chapter 30
Discontinuity and Trauma Theme Icon
Survival and Self-Preservation Theme Icon
It is 4 AM, and Berlin is keeping watch. Less than an hour remains before dawn. He thinks about his experiences... (full context)
Fantasy, Magical Realism, and Storytelling Theme Icon
Vietnam and the Chaos of War Theme Icon
Discontinuity and Trauma Theme Icon
To help himself make sense of his situation, Berlin decides to think about his early days as a soldier, and how he came to... (full context)
Chapter 31
Obligation vs. Escape Theme Icon
Survival and Self-Preservation Theme Icon
The chapter concerns Paul Berlin’s early experiences in the army. He and the other soldiers of his platoon are marching... (full context)
Obligation vs. Escape Theme Icon
Discontinuity and Trauma Theme Icon
Survival and Self-Preservation Theme Icon
Berlin thinks about the death of Billy Boy Watkins, which has happened only a few days... (full context)
Discontinuity and Trauma Theme Icon
Survival and Self-Preservation Theme Icon
Paul Berlin tries to concentrate on forgetting the details of Billy Boy’s death, but the harder he... (full context)
Discontinuity and Trauma Theme Icon
Survival and Self-Preservation Theme Icon
Berlin continues laughing, and as he laughs, he remembers the day that Billy Boy died. The... (full context)
Obligation vs. Escape Theme Icon
Discontinuity and Trauma Theme Icon
Survival and Self-Preservation Theme Icon
Berlin continues to remember Billy Boy’s death. After losing his foot, Billy Boy felt a sudden... (full context)
Fantasy, Magical Realism, and Storytelling Theme Icon
Discontinuity and Trauma Theme Icon
Survival and Self-Preservation Theme Icon
...the soldiers resume their business. Eddie sings humorous songs about Billy Boy, and Cacciato offers Berlin a stick of his prized Black Jack gum. He tells Berlin, “You’ll do fine. You... (full context)
Chapter 32
Fantasy, Magical Realism, and Storytelling Theme Icon
Vietnam and the Chaos of War Theme Icon
Discontinuity and Trauma Theme Icon
Survival and Self-Preservation Theme Icon
It is 4:30 AM. Berlin sits, keeping watch and thinking about Billy Boy. He decides that there’s nothing especially interesting... (full context)
Chapter 33
Vietnam and the Chaos of War Theme Icon
Discontinuity and Trauma Theme Icon
Survival and Self-Preservation Theme Icon
...arrested for a second time in Tehran, early on the morning of February 10th. Paul Berlin spends the next eight days alone in a prison cell, wondering what is happening to... (full context)
Fantasy, Magical Realism, and Storytelling Theme Icon
Discontinuity and Trauma Theme Icon
Survival and Self-Preservation Theme Icon
Inside his new prison room, Berlin asks Oscar why they were arrested. Before Oscar can answer, Captain Rhallon walks through the... (full context)
Vietnam and the Chaos of War Theme Icon
Obligation vs. Escape Theme Icon
Discontinuity and Trauma Theme Icon
Survival and Self-Preservation Theme Icon
As Berlin waits for Rhallon’s help, he thinks back on his past. He played baseball games as... (full context)
Fantasy, Magical Realism, and Storytelling Theme Icon
Discontinuity and Trauma Theme Icon
Survival and Self-Preservation Theme Icon
...responds by hitting Oscar on the nose, very hard. Oscar falls to the floor. Paul Berlin can’t stop smiling and giggling—something which annoys the officer considerably. Stink mutters that the officer... (full context)
Chapter 34
Fantasy, Magical Realism, and Storytelling Theme Icon
Vietnam and the Chaos of War Theme Icon
Obligation vs. Escape Theme Icon
Survival and Self-Preservation Theme Icon
At the beginning of Berlin’s military service, shortly after the deaths of Frenchie Tucker and Bernie Lynn, Oscar Johnson is... (full context)
Vietnam and the Chaos of War Theme Icon
Obligation vs. Escape Theme Icon
Discontinuity and Trauma Theme Icon
Survival and Self-Preservation Theme Icon
...a sign of support. He passes it around the group, and each soldier touches it. Berlin is the last to touch the grenade—he’s been trying to forget where he is by... (full context)
Chapter 35
Fantasy, Magical Realism, and Storytelling Theme Icon
Obligation vs. Escape Theme Icon
Discontinuity and Trauma Theme Icon
Survival and Self-Preservation Theme Icon
Paul Berlin and Cacciato are fishing together, shortly after the events of the last chapter. Cacciato complains... (full context)
Fantasy, Magical Realism, and Storytelling Theme Icon
Discontinuity and Trauma Theme Icon
Survival and Self-Preservation Theme Icon
Suddenly, Berlin produces a grenade and tells Cacciato that the soldiers want Cacciato to touch it. Cacciato... (full context)
Chapter 36
Fantasy, Magical Realism, and Storytelling Theme Icon
Discontinuity and Trauma Theme Icon
Survival and Self-Preservation Theme Icon
...their cell. There, Doc and Oscar write letters, while most of the soldiers sleep. Paul Berlin can’t sleep—he stays up, wondering what will happen next. Eventually he falls asleep, thinking of... (full context)
Fantasy, Magical Realism, and Storytelling Theme Icon
Discontinuity and Trauma Theme Icon
Survival and Self-Preservation Theme Icon
In his dreams, Berlin imagines Cacciato’s round face. Suddenly, he feels Sarkin shaking him awake. Sarkin tells him that... (full context)
Fantasy, Magical Realism, and Storytelling Theme Icon
Discontinuity and Trauma Theme Icon
Survival and Self-Preservation Theme Icon
Berlin runs away from his cell. Outside, he continues running, and imagines a getaway car, too—“why... (full context)
Discontinuity and Trauma Theme Icon
Survival and Self-Preservation Theme Icon
The soldiers continue to drive away from their pursuers. They’re silent, but extremely tense. Berlin looks out the window of the car and sees the stars and the mountains in... (full context)
Fantasy, Magical Realism, and Storytelling Theme Icon
Obligation vs. Escape Theme Icon
Discontinuity and Trauma Theme Icon
Survival and Self-Preservation Theme Icon
Oscar tells Berlin to take the wheel while he gets some rest. Berlin obliges. They drive for hours,... (full context)
Chapter 37
Vietnam and the Chaos of War Theme Icon
Discontinuity and Trauma Theme Icon
Survival and Self-Preservation Theme Icon
The chapter opens, “What Paul Berlin knew best was land.” He knows the land of Quang Ngai (the site of his... (full context)
Vietnam and the Chaos of War Theme Icon
Obligation vs. Escape Theme Icon
Berlin acquaints himself with the village of Quang Ngai, near which he and his fellow soldiers... (full context)
Chapter 39
Fantasy, Magical Realism, and Storytelling Theme Icon
Vietnam and the Chaos of War Theme Icon
Discontinuity and Trauma Theme Icon
Survival and Self-Preservation Theme Icon
Earlier in 1968, when Berlin, Stink, and the other soldiers were busy patrolling the village of Quang Ngai, Stink garnered... (full context)
Vietnam and the Chaos of War Theme Icon
Obligation vs. Escape Theme Icon
Survival and Self-Preservation Theme Icon
Berlin privately wonders about the villagers whom he and his fellow soldiers are threatening. Some of... (full context)
Vietnam and the Chaos of War Theme Icon
Obligation vs. Escape Theme Icon
Survival and Self-Preservation Theme Icon
In September, Paul Berlin is summoned before the battalion promotion board. At the board, Berlin learns that he’s up... (full context)
Chapter 40
Fantasy, Magical Realism, and Storytelling Theme Icon
Obligation vs. Escape Theme Icon
Discontinuity and Trauma Theme Icon
Survival and Self-Preservation Theme Icon
The chapter begins immediately after the events of Chapter 38. The narrator explains that Berlin and his fellow soldiers “would not have been captured” in Greece. Berlin and his fellow... (full context)
Fantasy, Magical Realism, and Storytelling Theme Icon
Vietnam and the Chaos of War Theme Icon
Obligation vs. Escape Theme Icon
Discontinuity and Trauma Theme Icon
Survival and Self-Preservation Theme Icon
...girl explains, is made up entirely of people who are sympathetic to deserters. They’ll help Berlin and his friends get airplane tickets, jobs, passports, and anything else they need. (full context)
Fantasy, Magical Realism, and Storytelling Theme Icon
Vietnam and the Chaos of War Theme Icon
Obligation vs. Escape Theme Icon
...and Sarkin into Germany. They pass by the Danube. “It was easy,” the narrator maintains. Berlin is excited to reach Paris. He imagines clean, neat rooms and beautiful buildings. He considers... (full context)
Chapter 41
Fantasy, Magical Realism, and Storytelling Theme Icon
Vietnam and the Chaos of War Theme Icon
Discontinuity and Trauma Theme Icon
Survival and Self-Preservation Theme Icon
...a battle, which keeps getting larger and more complicated. When the battle finally ends, Paul Berlin, Cacciato, and Eddie Lazzutti patrol the area, searching for bodies. They find the body of... (full context)
Chapter 42
Fantasy, Magical Realism, and Storytelling Theme Icon
Vietnam and the Chaos of War Theme Icon
Discontinuity and Trauma Theme Icon
Survival and Self-Preservation Theme Icon
At an unspecified time, Berlin sits at his tower, overlooking the ocean. He thinks about the soldiers he befriended during... (full context)
Chapter 43
Fantasy, Magical Realism, and Storytelling Theme Icon
Discontinuity and Trauma Theme Icon
Survival and Self-Preservation Theme Icon
...a train for Paris. The train ride is only four hours—a fact that baffles Paul Berlin, who’s been thinking back on the soldiers’ journey from Vietnam. They’ve been traveling for more... (full context)
Fantasy, Magical Realism, and Storytelling Theme Icon
Discontinuity and Trauma Theme Icon
Survival and Self-Preservation Theme Icon
The train ride draws to a close, and Berlin looks through his window to see the outer city of Paris. There are farms and... (full context)
Fantasy, Magical Realism, and Storytelling Theme Icon
Vietnam and the Chaos of War Theme Icon
Discontinuity and Trauma Theme Icon
Survival and Self-Preservation Theme Icon
Berlin, Sarkin, and the other soldiers leave their train and begin their stay in Paris. Berlin... (full context)
Fantasy, Magical Realism, and Storytelling Theme Icon
Obligation vs. Escape Theme Icon
One day, Sarkin suggests that she and Paul Berlin move into an apartment in Paris. Berlin is interested in this idea, but he insists... (full context)
Fantasy, Magical Realism, and Storytelling Theme Icon
Obligation vs. Escape Theme Icon
Survival and Self-Preservation Theme Icon
In the coming days, Berlin and Sarkin look for apartments in Paris. Some are “impossible,” while others are both charming... (full context)
Fantasy, Magical Realism, and Storytelling Theme Icon
Obligation vs. Escape Theme Icon
Survival and Self-Preservation Theme Icon
Shortly after their apartment visit, Berlin and Sarkin go to speak with Berlin’s fellow soldiers. Berlin is planning to tell them... (full context)
Fantasy, Magical Realism, and Storytelling Theme Icon
Obligation vs. Escape Theme Icon
Discontinuity and Trauma Theme Icon
Survival and Self-Preservation Theme Icon
Berlin goes to speak with Lieutenant Corson shortly after Eisenhower’s death. He finds the lieutenant in... (full context)
Fantasy, Magical Realism, and Storytelling Theme Icon
Obligation vs. Escape Theme Icon
Discontinuity and Trauma Theme Icon
Survival and Self-Preservation Theme Icon
Berlin leaves Corson, returns to Sarkin, and tells her, “it’s done.” Sarkin, pleased, takes Berlin to... (full context)
Chapter 44
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 the soldiers and Sarkin walking through the streets of Paris, away from their hotel. Berlin asks the soldiers why they need to leave Paris. Doc explains that the hotel clerks... (full context)
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 day, the soldiers wake up, and Berlin suggests that they “take a chance” on the apartment where he and Sarkin had been... (full context)
Fantasy, Magical Realism, and Storytelling Theme Icon
Obligation vs. Escape Theme Icon
Survival and Self-Preservation Theme Icon
...the importance of the soldiers’ mission. Oscar Johnson takes charge of the hunt for Cacciato. Berlin spends long days patrolling the streets of Paris. At night, he goes back to his... (full context)
Fantasy, Magical Realism, and Storytelling Theme Icon
Survival and Self-Preservation Theme Icon
The narrator writes, “The next morning he found Cacciato.” Berlin is walking through Les Halles (a neighborhood of Paris) when he sees Cacciato walking through... (full context)
Fantasy, Magical Realism, and Storytelling Theme Icon
Discontinuity and Trauma Theme Icon
Survival and Self-Preservation Theme Icon
The chapter cuts ahead several hours. Berlin is explaining to Doc how he found Cacciato. He shows Doc a slip of paper... (full context)
Fantasy, Magical Realism, and Storytelling Theme Icon
Obligation vs. Escape Theme Icon
Survival and Self-Preservation Theme Icon
...from a play. He urges the reader to “imagine” a debate between Sarkin and Paul Berlin. The debate takes place at the Majestic Hotel. Sarkin stands on a high stage. Speaking... (full context)
Fantasy, Magical Realism, and Storytelling Theme Icon
Obligation vs. Escape Theme Icon
Survival and Self-Preservation Theme Icon
The narrator proceeds to urge the reader to “imagine” Paul Berlin’s response. Berlin walks onto the stage and delivers an eloquent, sophisticated speech of his own.... (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
The time is 6 AM, and Berlin is sitting at the tower, looking out on the water. He thinks about the “facts.”... (full context)
Fantasy, Magical Realism, and Storytelling Theme Icon
Vietnam and the Chaos of War Theme Icon
Obligation vs. Escape Theme Icon
Discontinuity and Trauma Theme Icon
Survival and Self-Preservation Theme Icon
Berlin remembers Cacciato, who left the other soldiers, saying he would go to Paris. Berlin remembers... (full context)
Chapter 46
Fantasy, Magical Realism, and Storytelling Theme Icon
Obligation vs. Escape Theme Icon
Discontinuity and Trauma Theme Icon
Survival and Self-Preservation Theme Icon
The chapter opens with Doc announcing that “he” has “split.” As Berlin and Doc talk, it becomes clear that Doc is talking about Lieutenant Corson. He and... (full context)
Fantasy, Magical Realism, and Storytelling Theme Icon
Obligation vs. Escape Theme Icon
Discontinuity and Trauma Theme Icon
Survival and Self-Preservation Theme Icon
...for him to leave the building. The soldiers take their guns and prepare for Cacciato. Berlin leads them to the hotel where he found Cacciato. They wait for hours, until it’s... (full context)
Obligation vs. Escape Theme Icon
Discontinuity and Trauma Theme Icon
Survival and Self-Preservation Theme Icon
Oscar tells Berlin and the other soldiers to act as lookouts. He walks away. Some twenty minutes later,... (full context)
Fantasy, Magical Realism, and Storytelling Theme Icon
Obligation vs. Escape Theme Icon
Discontinuity and Trauma Theme Icon
Survival and Self-Preservation Theme Icon
Oscar directs his soldiers to proceed inside the hotel. Berlin leads the soldiers up the stairs to the door where he saw Cacciato. Oscar gives... (full context)
Fantasy, Magical Realism, and Storytelling Theme Icon
Vietnam and the Chaos of War Theme Icon
Discontinuity and Trauma Theme Icon
Survival and Self-Preservation Theme Icon
Berlin pushes open the door (unlocked) with his new rifle. Inside, there is only darkness. Berlin... (full context)
Fantasy, Magical Realism, and Storytelling Theme Icon
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 narrative flashes back many months, to the night that Berlin and the other soldiers were supposed to arrest Cacciato on the hill in Vietnam. Stink... (full context)
Fantasy, Magical Realism, and Storytelling Theme Icon
Vietnam and the Chaos of War Theme Icon
Obligation vs. Escape Theme Icon
Discontinuity and Trauma Theme Icon
Survival and Self-Preservation Theme Icon
Later in the night, Berlin wakes up to find Lieutenant Corson sitting next to him. Corson tells Berlin, “I guess... (full context)