The dictionary defines the phrase “A shot in the dark” with “ A hopeful attempt to hit an enemy that you can’t see” That is what the government in the United States did. They made a shot in the dark, by entering the Vietnam War and they did not hit their target. “A shot in the dark” is also the title of the short story by David Ayres, telling the story of a succeeding shot in the dark in the Vietnam War.
“A shot in the dark” is about a young marine in Vietnam who was a participant in the Vietnam War, witch was the longest war fought in America’s history, lasting from 1955 to 1973. The Vietnam War tarnished America’s self image by becoming the first time in history the United States failed to accomplish its stated war aims, to preserve a separate, independent, non-communist government. Not since the Civil War had America been so divided and many people thought that the War in Vietnam was pointless, but the government feared “the domino effect” that they thought would happed if the southern Vietnam became a communistic government.
The marine soldier and his company are going to see a movie; witch is an occasional happening because of electricity saving, when the projector goes out of function. The marine soldiers starts to become impatient, loud and lighting with their flashlights, witch is a dangerous situation.
“It is a rule of war, a scientifically proven fact, an empirical law, that men in combat must never stand, sit, or lie down in close proximity to one another, for then they become an inviting target to the enemy. If there is a special situation, and if a man should happen to find himself in a group of two or more closely assembled people, then at least he should be quiet.”(p.1l.21)
This “law” is not at all being observed. The soldiers are crowded together and by that they become a target, but by being loud they become an easy target, that is why suddenly the word “corpsman” is yelled and in war that means that someone has been shot and that was exactly what had happened. A lone sniper had been tempted by the lights and the noise and had fired a single bullet into the crowd. The marine soldiers are therefore told to get back to their tents, but our narrator waits and asks the projectionist what the movie they was going to see, was called. The projectionist answers “A Shot in the Dark”.
The narrator in the story is a young marine, but though it is a 1-person narrator, it is not very personal, it is only in the end that he writes how he feels: “Chills ran through me in the damp and sweltering blackness of the tragic nigh.”(p.2.l 13) Here he expresses how awful the episode and the whole night had been. It seems like he has a façade through the story were he seems kind of tuff, but in the end also writes, that he will never forget it: “Thirty-four years later, that night stands out in my memory as no other ever will.”(p.2.l.14) He shows that he is soft inside and that soldiers are humans like anyone else. The image we get of the soldiers and the war in this story is a very “none-war-like” image. What they do is not very “important” and the fact that they watch movies shows that they are bored. The soldier who dies in the tent that night, died for nothing, like all the other soldiers in that war did.
He got shot, because the soldiers was bored and frustrated by their meaningless mission and therefore upset by the none-functioning projector. The reason why the title of the movie freaks out the narrator is because “A shot in the dark” is exactly what happened that night and therefore it is a bit freaky. The meaning of the phrase ‘A shot in the dark’ is simply a hopeful attempt to hit an enemy that you can’t see and that is what the sniper did, but also the government who sent the soldiers in war. USA made a terrible shot in the dark that caused many innocent peoples lives and the picture of a meaningless war has become the main image of the Vietnam War.
Courtney from Study Moose
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