More than two million people were involved in the Vietnamese war and the amounts of casualties were enormous, due to the fact that the war itself has continued for 16 years straight. In today’s society, the Vietnamese War is an inevitable part of our history to be remembered of and many writers put their feelings of the war into a short story, a novel or a film such as the movies, Rambo and Forrest Gump.
They all depict one true nature of a war and that’s the ability of the wars to change any soldier’s mentality into a state of mind that can be described as craziness or insanity. The war in its entirety shows us the glory and the power but for each individual who has suffered a physical damage or mental disorder, all the wars of all sorts are just not worthwhile. If the soldiers ever return home, almost all the soldiers come back to their home with a completely different mindset and they all get nightmares about their horrifying memories that they have lived through. We all think of veteran soldiers as having a post-traumatic stress disorder or crippled, physically and mentally, but the story, Stockings, shows us a different type of soldier that does not give in to this powerful effect and lives through the horrible moments with happiness.Order now
The main point of this short story is that the war has grave impacts on all the individual soldiers involved in it but the ways to mentally survive through the war exist and they are to have a faith or a superstition to affect a change, have a purpose to outlive the war and go back to the old ways or have a positive mindset towards a happy moment such as love. In any case, Henry Dobbins, portrayed by Tim O’Brien, is a strong man of faith and his simple qualities help him through his life as a soldier, majorly affected by a pair of stockings of the love of his life.
First of all, scientists proved that post-traumatic stress disorder is an anxiety disorder, caused when a person was in a terrifying event that threatened to cause a grave physical harm. This is just another way of describing a mental environment during a war because a war is always threatening to cause death, hunger and pain. It is helpful, in these situations, to have a strong faith or a superstition that can help the soldier’s mind into a more relaxed state.
In a group of soldiers, there is always a Christian who has his bible close to him at all times and as an atheist, a person might wonder how a book would save him from all the dangers caused by the war but when a soldier profoundly believes in god, it can have a positive effect on the soldier’s mind which helps him perform much better in many aspects. In this story, the narrator states, “The pantyhose, he said, had the properties of a good-luck charm.”(O’Brien, P. 94)
Henry Dobbins profoundly believed in his “absurd” superstition that when he wore his girlfriend’s stockings, he will be safe from all danger. Obviously, no stockings or pantyhose would ever deflect bullets or save him from a bomb attack but O’Brien, through Henry Dobbins, is showing us that a positive state of mind can greatly affect reality. “Henry Dobbins was a good man, and a superb soldier, but sophistication was not his strong suit”(O’Brien, P. 93) was how the narrator described him and this clearly tells us that his simplicity in mind helped him believe in his stockings superstition and it helped his physical being survive through the events with the help of a positive mentality.
Secondly, an optimistic mind, like Henry Dobbins, always has a dream in front of them that they wholly believe will come true and it gives the optimistic minds their most beneficial state of mind, their lack of stress. Whenever anyone has a purpose in their lives that they must accomplish, they tend to work the hardest amongst people and they have a better chance of accomplishment than a person who just does things for the sake of doing. Bakers, for example, might bake a poor cake if they are working for the sake of earning money but if they had a purpose or a goal in their mind such as serving a perfect food for their dearest lover, they will work really hard and it will result as a magnificent cake.
Such is the case for soldiers when they have a set of mind to work for an accomplishment and Henry Dobbins’ purpose to outlive his situation was depicted by the author as this: “a place where he might someday take his girlfriend to live.”(O’Brien, P. 94) Henry Dobbins clearly had a happy vision that he wanted to accomplish, a purpose that drove him to outlive this horrendous moment of his life and survive the Vietnamese war to be embraced back home by his girlfriend.
While he “tripped a Bouncing Betty”(O’Brien, P. 94) or “got caught in the open during a fierce little firefight,”(O’Brien, P.94) he was imagining himself back home, giving and receiving love to his girlfriend and this mindset helped him survive through all these problems. Whether it be because of love, due to a dream, or caused by an event, if a soldier, or anyone in any situation, has a mind set for future success, it can have a profound impact upon his current situation and in the case of Henry Dobbins, it will help him, both mentally and physically, survive through the war and come back home to be just like the way it used to be.
Lastly, Terry Goodkind has mentioned in his first book, “Wizard’s First Rule” that “the enemies are the strongest and the hardest to defeat if they wholly believe in what they do.” This is true, in every aspect, because if anyone has their mind set to do something with a positive vision, they will attempt to do so with all their might. This was also not too different from Henry Dobbins because he was, as mentioned in the story, “like America itself, big and strong, full of good intentions.”(O’Brien, P. 93) He had a positive influence that kept him away from all the dangers and his mind was deflecting all the bad impacts that wars have on soldiers.
This is because warm and good influences, such as love, are affecting the soldier’s mind to look at the world in a positive way and do all the things that a soldier can do in a rightful manner. In Henry Dobbins’ case, this good influence comes from his superstition of the stockings and the author, Tim O’Brien didn’t put stockings into the story without a reason. Stockings, in this story, symbolize love and home and are clearly a sexual fetish for Dobbins.
They are what could be considered the most opposite things from the war but as he wore his girlfriend’s stockings, “They gave access to a spiritual world, where things were soft and intimate.”(O’Brien, P. 94) The relationship between his girlfriend and himself was indeed what gave him the intimate feelings that weren’t part of his life as a soldier and it helped his mind settle in a different place while his body was fighting for his mental dream to be accomplished.
With the warm and positive thoughts, such as the mindset of Henry Dobbins, all the bad influences around a soldier can be gotten rid of because if you believed in Christ, you will know that all the devils around you can’t harm you so if you had a similar positive mindset or any type of faith that ruled over your body, it will help any soldier ignore the situation near him and survive all the rough circumstances.
On the whole, the amazing events where Henry Dobbins got away from danger wasn’t because he was “big and strong,”(O’Brien, P. 93) or he physically had a pantyhose of his girlfriend around his neck nor was it because there was a secret magic involved with his precious stockings. The entire story boils down to a simple conclusion, that Henry Dobbins could rid himself of all the bad influences with his none-sophisticated mind and his positive mentality, solely inside his brain.
He survived because of his faith in superstition that changed him to become a mentally strong person, he could keep going because he had a purpose, a vision and a dream to accomplish when he was finished with the war and he was able to keep his mindset from becoming insane due to his positive, optimistic mind. It isn’t just a theory that a happy and warm mind brings survival and success in even the most dangerous and unlikely situation.
If everyone was like Henry Dobbins, there would be no reason for pain and suffering to exist in our world and everyone will have a profound motivation that helps them become a better person, a better soldier or any type of worker. Tim O’Brien was able to state all these motivational impacts upon the readers in a mere page and he was telling all of us to think more happily, have a great goal to accomplish and work hard for it just like Henry Dobbins.