Posted by: beansai | February 12, 2008

Journal Entry #3: Jarhead

    I would have to say that one of the most moving depictions in Anthony Swofford’s memoir, is the portrait of him and his budy Fergus years after their military life. Swofford describes the both of them with long hair, kind of scruffy looking, living lives that are anything but fulfilling. In fact they barely seem to be hanging on. When Fergus visits with Swofford, he describes them as “blind drunk, and angry at one another for changing, for slipping”. Over and over and over again throughout the text Swofford brings up the fact that once you are a Jarhead, you are ALWAYS a Jarhead.

    This adds to the haunting aspect of the entire memoir, this idea that no one can ever escape the reality of their military life experiences. The fact that they cannot return home and be the same people that they were before they enlisted. I think it is interesting how humans manage to identify with certain aspects or experiences in their life for their entire life. Obviously what Swofford and some of his Corps buddies went through is on the more extreme side of things, but I think you could say the same thing for other people as well. For example (though not anywhere as comparatively traumatic) I spent 8 years of my youth as a figure skater. I spent most of my childhood missing out on things like Girl Scouts and school experiences because I was dedicated to my ice skating career. By the time I was fifteen I was ice skating four to five times a week at 4 in the morning, then straight to school afterwards. Then a back injury put me out of commission, and finally my parents decided that I was no longer allowed to skate. From that point on I would have recurring dreams about being on the ice, but not being able to move or jump, or skating against a large crowd of people and not being able to perform as I needed to. Eight years later and I STILL have, what I consider, nightmares about not being able to skate. It is always ingrained in my blood now that I am a figure skater, even if I’m now fat and out of shape and my old skates are shoved into the back of a closet and no longer fit my fat ankles. But still…it won’t go away, that part of me that had been so dedicated to tha life style for so long cannot simply be dropped. Now, like I said, this was by no means as traumatic an experience as war or anything like Swofford describes in Jarhead, but simply that the principle is the same. Even the average Joe can have an experience that they cannot separate themselves from, even years afterward.

    Perhaps this is why I find the idea of always being a Jarhead the most haunting of the memoir, because in the midst of all the military lingo and foreign experiences, this is the place of common ground between me and the memoir.

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