On Distant Ground Summary
Robert Olen Butler

Everything you need to understand or teach On Distant Ground by Robert Olen Butler.

  • On Distant Ground Summary & Study Guide

On Distant Ground Summary

Three themes are tightly entwined throughout the novel: the need to define the self when conventional sociocultural frames of reference are lost; the need to retain a sense of humanity amid the savageries of war; and the need to carry on life in the face of death.

Through flashbacks, Fleming allows the reader glimpses of his experiences as a young military intelligence officer working in and near Saigon. When one of his enlisted men, Wilson Hand, was captured, Fleming raided the location and readily killed the VC guarding the imprisoned American. Thus, as a young American officer, he did not shrink from the need for combat. In questioning prisoners, he was not above employing moderately abusive techniques to persuade people to divulge information, though he preferred to leave the harsher methods to South Vietnamese interrogators rather than use them himself. The conventions of patriotism and the U.S...

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Study Pack

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On Distant Ground Short Guide