In the chapter entitled “Just Cause,” Duong Van Mai Elliot realized that communist trickery or cleverness made the Americans lose. The just cause, which comprised of nationalism, that drove the Americans out and cut their fatherland into two parts before reunifying was meant to make the poor people have a better future. The communists had a greater vision beyond the popular cause which involved the organization of the people and supporting them to acquire victory. Duong meant that the communists were more organized and had a greater idea of what they wanted to achieve, which was beyond their trickery and cleverness. In addition, they were more unified compared to the Americans, which made them conquer the challenges making them victorious. On the other hand, the Americans were not clever enough and did not have an organized system. They lacked proper leadership and poor ideology (Elliott, 2000). Moreover, they lacked the same good qualities that the communists had, which gave them the spirit to continue fighting for justice. Elliot concluded that the communist had more than a popular because of her life and family experience that placed her in a position to effectively express her opinion. Her personal experience gave the readers a different understanding and perspective about films and texts such as “The Things They Carried” and the “Lyndon Johnson’s War” which talked about politics and the Vietnam experience.
Elliot’s opinions regarding the Vietnam war are not only effective but appropriate to what is written in several texts and produced in several films in America. She managed to acquire accurate information from her father and sisters who were the victims of the war. She was divided among the ideologies of war and peace which was yielded by the family bonds. Elliot’s sister was a member of the communist regime, and she saw how they had a strong belief in a just cause. The communists had been stripped of their land by the foreigners in the nation (Berman, 1991). They were left poor and helpless, but it did not damage their spirit to fight for what was rightfully theirs and, in this case, it is their land. Elliot saw how her sister was mistreated for fighting for the just cause, but it is her strength that motivated her into the discovery that there was more to the communist apart from their tricky and clever ways of dealing. They supported one another to achieve victory through discipline and proper organization.
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On the other hand, Elliot’s younger brother was a communist and was compelled to go to exile because of the ill status that they had been reduced to after their lands were taken away by the foreigners. This circumstance led her into coming to the discovery that some of the communists, who were not strong enough, decided to look for a better lifestyle somewhere else. Numerous communists were propelled to go into exile due to the war and pressure that reduced most of them to nothing (O’Brien, 2009).
Elliot has indicated that as the war continued to intensify, more people, especially the communists, were taken as prisoners. It triggers certain defectors to give up fighting for personal reasons. Some feared being captured and taken to jail while others were tired of the violence and war that seemed unrelenting. In addition, there are those, who left because of disillusionment, not because of the goals of the Viet Cong. They believed that their tactic of the assassination of the leaders was not working and in some way was not effective enough to bring the change that they wanted.
Nevertheless, even though the communist were jailed, they still believed and had faith in their cause hoping that those who were out there would win the battle for them. On the other hand, the defectors had nothing to hold on to since they had lost hope in their cause (Catsam, 2008). They felt that there was no way in which they would receive lenient treatment from the Americans. Therefore, they waited in their jail cells for the day when they will be released from prison. Elliot saw that the defectors were anxious and tired as they were aware that there was no guarantee of freedom or safety. Moreover, they felt that there was no need for war since it did not bring any positive change to their situation but rather left them destroyed.
Elliot decided to trace the family journey by looking through her childhood when she lived with the grandmother. She flashbacked how they used to hide from the French troops while their village was being torched down. She revealed the agonies of the Vietnamese families, especially how they were split by the French people (Hughees, 1999). To stand strong, some people, like her eldest sister, decided to join the opposition. She decided to become part of the Viet Minh group where she spent several months sleeping in the jungle with her infant son. They were often raided by the foreigners during the daytime while at night the wild animals in the forest became a major threat to them.
The Americans had greater enemies like Viet Cong that had better fighting skills and strong motivation to fight for what they wanted. Moreover, the Viet Cong was not scared of the American weapons system and strong military operations (Savage, 2013). They decided to put a fight for months using their weapons and strong leadership to tackle every obstacle that was on their way. The Americans fought since they were motivated by revolutionary forces unlike the communists, who fought for a bigger and stronger cause, which was supposed to provide a better lifestyle within the nation. The communists believed in their leader Viet Minh and had faith that he would free their nation from the foreigners who dominated their economic system. Additionally, they believed that under the regime, Minh would bring them social justice while at the same time providing equal opportunities for the less fortunate, especially the poor people in the nation.
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The family supported Elliot’s elder sister's decision to become part of the Viet Minh since all they needed was a better lifestyle for everyone. Thus, they supported every style that they decided to employ. The people, who were not strong enough to put on a fight, were supported by their families to look for a better way out thus the reason why Elliot’s father never considered her sister a traitor. This is the reason that Elliot indicated in the book that the defectors had nothing more to live for due to the suffering that they had been under in the nation.
Nevertheless, the intensity of the war made some of the group members fear for their lives. Elliot’s sister, together with other people from the Viet Cong group, felt that there was no possibility of having a better life in the US. Thus, they were only left with the option of running away. The anxiety of the possible future consequences triggered them to run away not because they were weak, but to have a better life than they could not achieve in the nation without their lands. On the contrary, certain people, like her elder sister, were simply tired of fighting due to the constant fights which weighed them down both emotionally and physically. The idea that safety was guaranteed until the war ended was what drove them away.
Comparison with Other Texts and Films
The book Sacred Willow offered an understanding that influenced the reader’s perspective about films and texts about the politics and Vietnam experience. Despite the exaggeration in the films and texts, it is evident that they all talked about the same thing, particularly about how war negatively impacted people, representing something that Elliot has addressed in the book. (Glu, 2016). The dark visions that are expressed in Apocalypse Now and the Deer Hunter together with other films indicate that the reasons behind engaging in the warfare were just. The film Apocalypse Now has addressed the aspects of the Vietnam War and how leadership played a crucial role in the war. Elliot mentioned that good leadership was an important factor in the war; it is what provided the direction which people followed among the Viet Cong group and the communist group.
Leadership determined whether a nation will succeed or be conquered by the enemy. On the other hand, the leaders are the ones who come up with ideologies and visions which they wanted to see achieved. According to Elliot, the fact that the Americans lacked the above qualities made them more vulnerable to failure. If a leader believes in a cause, they will devote their entire life to ensure that they achieve what they want. They will put every hardship aside and work towards achieving the common goal of the nation. In Apocalypse, Now Captain Willard had the mission of ensuring that he assassinated the renegade colonel who used authoritative leadership skills to dictate and misuse the local tribe (Savage, 2013). Just like the communist group and the Viet Cong, Captain Willard had a just cause which was to bring justice to the community by killing the colonel who misused his powers in a similar way to the French in America. O’ Brian’s book The Things They carried depicts everything that the soldiers in Elliot’s book and the film on Vietnam War and they included fatal injuries, tents, raincoats, and groundsheet among other things (O’Brien, 2009).
In conclusion, Elliot’s story is more compelling since it is based on real-life events and the impacts that they had on her discovery and decision. Elliot was fully informed of the epic of the experience of the communist groups and the Vietnam people plus the struggles they had with the foreigners through the stories that her father told them. Her personal experience gave the readers a clear understanding of the films and texts, such as The Things They Carried, Apocalypse Now, The Deer Hunter, and Lyndon Johnson’s War which talked about politics and Vietnam War experiences.