Home Soil is a story written by Irene Zabytko that takes place in Chicago during the Vietnam War. Bohdan, the narrator?s son, is the main character of the plot. His interaction with his father throughout the story proves that he is suppressing the pain that is within him. What led to this is the message that Zabytko intended for the reader; opportunities do not exist forever. Throughout the short story Bohdan displays regret, dwelling, and absolution as he realizes an opportunity has come and gone.
The feeling of regret can weigh a person?s emotions beyond normalcy. As the story unfolds and the plane arrives in Chicago from San Francisco, Bohdan becomes immediately unsocial from an expected level. ?We stood apart, unlike the other soldiers and their families who were hugging and crying on each other?s shoulders in a euphoric delirium,? said Bohdan?s dad. Mentioned briefly in the beginning of the story was the fact that Bohdan?s dad was also in a war and had never spoken of it to anyone. As little words are exchanged, Bohdan?s dad finds himself wondering why his son has not told him any details of his journey. This is a realism that the father has had before in his own experiences. Zabytko then begins to tell the father?s story of regret in a lengthy description, including all of his war efforts. When regret is established one tends to dwell on that incident searching for a resolution.
The semi-torturing act of dwelling is a replay of events that lead up to and include the regret that took hold. Bohdan?s parachute pin is a form of symbolism. The pin represents an unattainable dream of his. Bohdan hasn?t been able to stop thinking about the one thing he was not able to do. This, in return, explains why his concentrations seemed to be elsewhere than the reality he was living in. Bohdan?s dad also has flashbacks in his mind that cannot be controlled. Zabytko gives superb imagery as she has the dad describe his compelling story of regret. With a better understanding of dwelling through the father?s story the reader can now place a similar burden on Bohdan. ?I see him staring at the round carapace of a ceiling, stoic icons staring directly back at him,? said the dad. This image presents the importance of the thoughts that are running through Bohdan?s head. Once a person has dwelled on something to the point of driving himself insane he then usually searchs for a forgiveness or absolution.
When bad thoughts have reached maximum capacity and possibilities of correction seem impossible, the last resort is a formal freeing of one?s guilt. Built up throughout the story was Bohdans? social behavior. Also, throughout the story, the father?s emotional behavior built up with Bohdans? silence. Zabytko shows the father?s plea for forgiveness when he says, ?I should have shot her. I should have spared her from whatever she had to go through.? Ultimately Bohdan wants forgiveness as well.
With his father by his side, crying in the garden, Bohdan tries to cleanse his regret. The only way out of one?s regret is to except it as a missed opportunity. Bohdan does this when he says, ?Tato, I didn?t know anything. You know, I just wanted to jump out from planes with my parachute. I just wanted to fly?.? As the story ends with that statement it is assumed that the father reveals his regrets to his son as well. With sin, guilt, and obligation one ponders why they exist. They are all some given opportunity that was taken or understood the wrong way. Zabytko shows how decisions are vital for survival and wrong ones can hurt you. Some opportunities do not exist forever; do not let them slip by as Bohdan and his father did.
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