JAC: A Journal of Composition Theory, Volume 24, Number 2, 2004 Page: 272
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62). (The photographer, Nick Ut, describes the burns in disturbingly close
language: "Her whole back, neck and arm were black like a barbecue"
[Life Special 44]).
Lin's articulated vision ofthe V produced by the V ofthe monument's
vertex, the place where the walls meet, was textual and even literary. "The
memorial," she writes, "is analogous to a book in many ways. Note that
on the right-hand panels the pages are set ragged right and on the left they
are set ragged left, creating a spine at the apex as in a book. ... [The scale]
creates a very intimate reading in a very public space, the difference in
intimacy between reading a billboard and reading a book" (4:14). Lin's
use of the metaphor ofthe spine of the book returns us to the human body:
the body wounded and dead, and the live body reading. During the
hearings about the design of the memorial, one of the men from Veterans
Against the War described the effect of the wall as a place of memory: "I
go there, I remember." The remembering, however, requires a public
monument that somehow protects as it houses private experience; this
is precisely what happened when Kim spoke and remembered at the
The design of the wall never ceased being controversial; part of the
explicit concern about Lin's model (when it wasn't seen as too concretely
sexual) was that it was too abstract, too remote from the war experience.
Lin recalls being asked by one of the veterans what she thought the
reaction to the wall would be. "I was too afraid to tell him what I was
thinking," she writes, "that I knew a returning veteran would cry" (4:16).
Public weeping is not an activity we associate with men. And yet this is
precisely what happens. This is what the architect intended and said she
hoped for, since she imagined the design as "experiential and cathartic"
(4:16). Like the returning soldiers and the many American visitors
looking for the names of their loved ones, Kim Phuc wipes tears from her
eyes as she stands against the wall, reading not her name, of course, or
those of her family and friends who died in Vietnam, but upon seeing her
history in the eyes ofthe men looking at her, weeping. In public, she cries
for the men, authorizing their tears. Throughout the film, Kim cries-as
does her audience-every time she tells the story of being the girl in the
picture. But the woman in the second picture is committed to not crying:
"Every time I took a shower and saw the mirror," Kim reminisces in the
Life magazine special, "Caught in Time," "I cried. My mother said, 'If
you love us, don't cry anymore. We love you. We can take care of
everything but the pain. You alone have to suffer it.' I love them, so I don't
cry anymore. I try, I try" (44).20
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Association of Teachers of Advanced Composition (U.S.). JAC: A Journal of Composition Theory, Volume 24, Number 2, 2004, periodical, 2004; (digital.library.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metadc28644/m1/18/?rotate=270: accessed October 23, 2017), University of North Texas Libraries, Digital Library, digital.library.unt.edu; .