(1) How do the opening sentences prepare you for the story: "This is one story I've never told before. Not to anyone"? What effect do they have on you, as a reader?
(2) Why does O'Brien relate his experience as a pig declotter? How does this information contribute to the story? Why go into such specific detail?
(3) What is Elroy Berdahl's role in this story? Would this be a better or worse story if young Tim O'Brien simply headed off to Canada by himself, without meeting another person?
(4) At the story's close, O'Brien almost jumps ship to Canada, but doesn't: "I did try. It just wasn't possible" (61). What has O'Brien learned about himself, and how does he return home as a changed person?
(5) Why, ultimately, does he go to war? Are there other reasons for going he doesn't list?