Born on the Fourth of July

In Oliver Stone’s, Born on the Fourth of July, we find our hero, Ron Kovic, strolling his wheelchair along next to his high school sweetheart, Donna. This scene comes to a stop when Donna steps onto the curb to go up to her dormitory. As Ron continues to roll, he merely bumps into the curb. There is a quick pause of awkwardness until Donna finally decides to ask Ron if he would like to come up. He says no. This one scene in the film depicts Ron’s beginning to complete alienation from family, friends, and society as a whole. It demonstrates the separation and lack of understanding the United States of the late 60’s and early 70’s had for the veterans of the Vietnam War and the paraplegic, known as Ron Kovic.

First, we examine Ron’s alienation from society. Upon arrival back in the states, Ron is not pleased with the welcome he and his fellow vets have received. Students across the country, including Syracuse, where Donna resides, are holding anti-war rallies and taking part in heinous acts such as burning the American flag. As we examine closely at the Independence Day parade, we see Ron waving to the crowd, smiling, trying maintain his pride and honor as a U.S. Marine. Though, he does not receive the same response from the crowds standing by. One man in particular flips Ron “the bird.” Others huddle together, wearing “peace” shirts and booing as the rest of the veterans drive by. Some just have look of sorrow and oppression. All these occurrences create the image and disillusionment in Ron’s head that perhaps, his country and it’s citizens have betrayed him and his fellow veterans.

In addition to society, Ron’s alienation extends into his own family. While away at war, Ron’s younger brother, Tommy, has already become a firm believer in anti-war. This, in itself, already creates a gap, or “curb”, in their relationship that Ron can’t seem to go over. It’s almost as if Ron receives no support from his family because even his own mother refuses to tolerate Ron’s attitude, who seems to resent everything and everyone around him. One evening, Ron returns home after a prior confrontation with a WWII veteran in a bar. Ron arrives drunk and has yet another, even worse, confrontation with his mother, who is in fact, embarrassed to have a handicapped son. With no remorse, Ron eventually leaves his home permanently.

Ron Kovic’s alienation from society, family, and friends is the result of one bump into the curb – the loss of his limbs. This one bump represents the attitude of resentment, bitterness, and betrayal Kovic feels from the country around him. It is because of one event, Ron Kovic’s world begins to spin so rapidly causing the people who “love” him to become distant.

Stone, Oliver.Born on the Fourth of  July. 20 December 1989.

Born on the Fourth of July. Plot Summary. The Internet Movie Database; 1989


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