Going After Cacciato


Tim O’Brien

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Going After Cacciato: Chapter 12 Summary & Analysis

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 through his body. He thinks back to his childhood, when he first became conscious that he needed to learn how to be brave. As a child, Berlin was frightened by everything—noise, the dark, tunnels, etc. He remembers that he once nearly won the Silver Star—a military medal for valor. He still believes that he has the bravery necessary to win one. There is, he believes, a Silver Star “twinkling somewhere inside him.”
It’s clear that Berlin’s motivation for becoming a soldier was his conflicted relationship with his father. As a child, he was always conscious of being inferior to his father in terms of his strength and masculinity. Becoming a soldier, Berlin believes, is the natural next step, one which will allow him to prove his strength and masculinity and finally make his father proud of him.
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Discontinuity and Trauma Theme Icon
Survival and Self-Preservation Theme Icon