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The Dear Hunter- Full Story Explanation And Overview Part V

Hey everyone. Today we continue to review Act III. We finished the last one with our protagonist encountering four manifestation of war and humanity pushed to it’s limits- The Tank, The Poison Woman, The Theif and Mastard Gas. The last one has left The Boy incapacitated on the ground and left for dead. Thankfully for him, a stranger who will play a crucial part of the story enters the frame to pull him back from the brink.

8. “Saved”

“Amongst the stone and smoke
We never laid before
Images floating all about
Life in the afterglow

My decaying mind pretends
None of this ever happened
We either learn to live a lie
Or we’re waiting here to die”

The Boy is floating in and out of consciousness, left lying and dying in the ruins of war left behind by The mustard gas. His whole life is flashing before his eyes. He knows he’s dying and as his mind’s starting to go away he pretends none of this ever happened and that he’s back home. He comes to a very dark and cynical realization that we’re all focused on living our lives as a lie, and when we finally realize that we’re just waiting our lives to end. A harsh realization probably inspired by his encounter with The Tank, The Poison Woman, The Theif and The Mastard Gas- seeing that they spend their lives in suriving in this harsh world.

“And after all this suffering
I could lie here for good
But with a mind on fire
I try and stand my ground

Illuminate and I will follow”

The Boy wants to lie and give up for good, after all that he’s been through. suddenly, a mysterious figure comes to rescue him. The Boy sees him as a strange light and gathers the strength to get up and stay alive, following that ghostly light.

“Amongst the stone and smoke
Rising above it all
Broken but not beyond repair
Let’s see how this soul fares”

This moment presents The Boy a second chance of living. this moment is in many ways a rebirth- both physically and emotionaly . in spite of his cynical dark conclusion in the last verse, The Boy decides to not give up on believing there’s good in the world.  Although the individual who saves him is not directly mentioned or described in any way, he will play a crucial part of the story shortly.

9. “He Said He Had A story”

this is a very upbeat song and I really like it. It has a very dark twist to it and It’s very disturbing and tense. It features a very important realization of The Boy. This song features a story being told to The Boy by a different individual- a stranger from The Boy’s platoon. There are several things that we need to know that aren’t told in the lyrics of the song “Saved”. One of them is That the soldier that saved The Boy looks an awful lot like our Protagonist and The Character telling the story in this song is actally that soldier’s Father.

“There was a silver circle sign
And she was standing at the door
We pressed our way right through the crowd
Our pace was quickened to her floor
There was a single feigning light
And there was silk all on the wall
She had a lot of love to give
I was prepared to take it all
(But what did she do next?)”

The Father rencounters a story from his youth where he and his friends went to visit a brothel. His description of a silver circle sign makes us realize that he is talking about “The Dime” in The City. The man spotted a woman standing at the door and he immidiantly knew he wanted to have sex with her. It’s important to know that he didn’t just want to have sex with her. He wanted to take something from her. he sees her as an object. This song shows us just how cruel he really is.

“She had disrobed and she was
Waiting on the floor
She asked me what it was I want
I thought that I wanted it all
(What did you say?)
I said stand up and move your body to the bed
She quickly stood and slowly turned
And here’s exactly what she said …

“Please be soft and sweet to me
This life has not been good, you see
It’s hard with such a history
Buried in misery”

The Father talks to the woman with zero grace or tact. He sees her as a service giver. She’s asking him to go easy on her. She’s been through a lot and was hurt so many times, that she’s simply asking him to at least go easy on her. On The Other hand, The Father is only talking to her with instructions. The way that she talks and acts, reminds us of only one character. Definitely not the calculated and calm Ms. Leading. This character is very similar in her actions to the shaky Ms. Terry. This similarity doesn’t escape Our Protagonist either, and and likely begins to get an unsettling feeling.

“(And what did you do next?)

I broke a smile, reminding that I paid her well.
Her lips returned, and then I felt
Her hands unbuckling my belt

(So was it good?)

It felt like heaven but I’m sure she was in hell.
I made it clear that I’d get my money’s
Worth out of the goods she sells”

After asking The Father to take it easy on her, because of all the pain that she’s been through, he responds, merely reminding her that he paid for her and that he’s going to make her worth every penny. He seems to relish the fact that what he did to her caused her pain (implying that there was likely some level of sexual abuse and nonconsensual acts performed). His sole concern here is that he achieve the personal satisfaction he seeked from her, and part of that satisfaction seems to be tied to taking power and agency away from her.

“Break and bind yourself to me
Deliver what you sold you see that
I will only take from you
And use you up. I’ll use you up
What was your name?”

And just in case those points weren’t made clearly enough, here’s The Father talking about how he preys on her and through monetary transaction is able to justify taking her dignity, her pride, and her agency away from her, all for his own sick satisfaction. And as the bitter and sour cherry on top, in the end he can’t even remember what her name was. She meant so little to him as a human and really only represented an object or idea for him to use to his own benefit. That makes him far worse than the self-serving manipulations of Ms. Leading, and it easily puts him at the same level of the other characters throughout this chapter who transformed themselves to steal belongings and lives from others for their own benefit.

As to the identity of the woman in the story, we know her name. It was Ms. Terri, and as The Boy comes to this realization himself, it doesn’t take long to connect the dots from there as to who The Father and The Son are — his own father and his half-brother. The Dear Hunter has found his family, but it’s far from a happy reunion.

10. “The Beautiful Life”

“One foot, then the other
Such embarrassment
It wasn’t meant that
I, I should discover
Such offensive things
The suffering sends
Hope to the ground
But I really never had enough
They’ve got pride in him
This tide turns lives over”

This song features a great contrast between the happy atmosphere of the music and the depressing lyrics and the dark twist in the story we just encountered. The music is upbeat and fun and the lyrics are all about the harsh realities of war, further emphasizing the delusions one must put oneself through in order to stay sane in such an environment. “This Beautiful Life” is probably the best example of that, as its bouncy sing-along melodies are contrasted by the existential angst of our protagonist.

The Boy struggles to maintain his optimistic realization from “Saved”, after this dramatic turn of evens. He contemplates on that while healing from his injuries. He realizes that there’s still a lot of suffering in the world, and this is taken much harder, after his great spiritual rebirth.

“A back-town prophecy
Adorned in stony skin
We never ever (never ever)
Ever had to lie to move ahead
But here in oblivion
We cling to what we can
So in the end (in the end)
We can say that with these hands
We took it all back
It all back”

The Boy is thinking about his home. He remembers how different life was, and how he could go through life being a naive boy. “But here in oblivion” – to get by here and on the battlefield you have to acknowledge all the cynical forces that are trying to crush you, and to be able to deal with them through manipulation and immoral actions. You only have yourself to look after you, and everyone else trying to take something from you. I think he actually notices his transition is not unlike the transition of the man in the tank. losing your old self and becoming something entirely different is scary and he’s no longer seeing the enemies he faces as complete monsters. He realizes that the transformation that altered the man in the tank will probably happen to him, if he stays on the battlefield,  fighting. War forces us to whittle down our humanity until there’s only slivers left that we lock away and protect at all costs.

“So let us force a smile
And pretend that we’re alive
Oh, but somewhere
None of this happened
The bullets removed themselves
Life is beautiful

I have a home above the lake where I could

Forget the words
To the songs that we’ve heard
The passages read
All the names in a world
That have brought us this pain
From the wounds we’ve sustained
A cold calloused heart
Sitting still in this cave of a chest
So abandon a life from before
A boy and his innocence…”

The only way to deal with his current life, and all the horrors he goes through, is to force a smile and pretend. He remembers his life as a boy, treasuring it like never before. He knows that back home, is like another world. He doesn’t have to deal with all the horrible things he went through. The safe and innocent world created by Ms. Terri is gone and he will never be able to go back to that life. remembering the past is the only way for him to be able to deal with so many events and changes that has happened. It’s the only way for him to deal with the war he is in and the things he has to go through. only in the end of the song, does The Boy acknowledges that he also must completely let go of his past life and his innocence to stay alive here.

11. “Go Get Your Gun”

“Go get your gun
Get your gun
And let’s find out what it does
Shoot, shoot, shoot, shoot, shoot
We haven’t won
And if we win
And if the morning light sets in
We’ve cheated fate again

And to those who die
Please try to understand
That for those who die
We tried the best we can

With our one foot in the grave
While the other one’s kickin’ its way
Right down to hell”

This song describes the routine of going into battle.  The action of going to war, risking your life, taking the lives of other soldiers and dealing with all the horrors this war includes becomes a routine for the soldiers after a while. Following the realization of The Boy in the last song, all the horrible aspects of was just becomes a routine and going through the motion. The transformation and hardening he feared so much from “The Tank” through “Mustard Gas” is complete, and he’s simply another cog in the great machine of war.

“Go get your gun
Get your gun
Imposing penance one by one
You’ve got a virtue in a vice
It forces fate you’re taking lives
With all the history to guide
You’ve got a passion in those eyes
So aim it straight and true”

There’s a great contradiction of the playful atmosphere this song creates and the things it talks about. The song pretty much sums up the psychological tolls of war. How it robs the identity of the soldiers, making them different people. it shows how the most inhumane acts become everyday routine. the mind becomes numb and indifferent to suffering and the only thing you need you think about is staying alive and doing what you are told.  Without ever getting too overtly political or lazily broad, this track and others throughout the album manage to explore the dehumanizing and barbaric realities of war as commentary that’s as relevant for military conflicts today as it would have been back in WWI.

12.\13. “Son”\Father:

“We lay aligned
And move to disguise
With a soul below
Only the eyes above
Slowly and silently
Slip away”

we’re down to the final 3 songs of the album. The last song we reviewed is the last uplifting song in the album, and the next 3 feature a turning point in the whole plot. It’s hard for me to describe how I feel when I’m listening to these songs. There’s something about them. It feels like an epic ending. like the conclusion of a long movie.  It makes me feel small, like I’m in the presence of something big.

So far, each song represented an experience our protagonist went through, or some realization he had. Each one of them has taken away some of his innocence. The last song represented the final transition of The Boy from who he was to a hardened war machine. So, these songs the implications of that transition. The Boy is fully aware of this transition and is having a hard time dealing with it.

“Sleep now in the soil
The dust in the debris
A stolen smoke ascends
Leaving the shell to atrophy
Meet with the earth
As the sober spirit sings”

The Boy and his half brother (“The Son”), became really close, fighting together. It makes since that after The Son saved our protagonist, and after our protagonist found out that there’s a chance that they are related that they would become close friends. The Boy never tells him what he suspects is true about their familial ties. The two are out in battle and The Son steps on a landmine, brutally injured and wounded. The Boy is devastated at the loss, but can’t help but think about a very dark plan. I think this situation places him in some sort of emotional crossroad. On one side, There’s the naive, and innocent boy he once was and on the other- the man he’s become, after all the different experiences he had to go through to survive this cruel war.

“Leave, leave it behind
This truth is harming you
Leave, leave it behind
Set out and start anew
Your life hereafter
Will cure all your troubles
And recast a history

Turn and walk away…”

In a moment of great internal conflict, he contemplates stealing The Son’s dog-tags and starting life anew as him. The possibility of a brand new start, after everything he found out and everything he’s been through is very tempting. when your mind can’t stand the thought of your new life and what you’ve become- the opportunity to put it all behind you is too tempting. It’s a bit tragic because the whole point of traveling far away and go to war was also an attempt to put his old life and experiences behind him and start anew. The truth is too hard to bear, and stealing his half- brother’s identity is the perfect opportunity to start fresh. Remember that our protagonist is far from the hero of the story.

“And what of the father?
Will he analyze?
And what about the mother?
Will she discover the truth
Behind this lie we’re living?”

The Boy sees immediate problems in this plan. The Father knows who he is and can easily say that he’s not his son. His mother can also see through these lies once he gets back to the city.

“(I knew I kept this for a reason)
(I knew I kept this for a reason)
Now everything we’ve ever had
Is here for us
Now everything we’ve ever had
Is here for us”

The Boy can’t help but to imagine what kind of life he can live. Stealing his brother’s identity can fix everything and bring everything’s back to normal. He can go back to the city and have a mother that loves him and takes care of him. He’s so desperate to have this life he’s willing to risk everything and do everything to have it. He’s to horrified to keep living the same life and deal with the new person he has become, that the possibility of starting over, in a new place with a new life is the thing he wishes the most. Now, finally- The Boy remembers the bottle of ethylene glycol he received from The Poison Woman, and he immediately knows what he must do.

“Don’t worry about the father
You’ll take care of him
And as for the mother,
She always loved her son
And you look like him”

The Boy decides to poison The Father. He plans that once he meets the mother, She won’t notice since he looks like him. Or – if she does, he assumes that she will delude herself that he is her son, so she won’t have to deal with the truth — that both her husband and son died in the war. Remember the name of the first track and it’s meaning? ““In Cauda Venenum” – The Poison is in the tail. Turns out this title has a meaning and a place for explaining the conclusion of the plot, as well as the beginning. Our protagonist has taken a life to serve his own selfish desires. He has crossed the threshold of morality and became just as bad as the soldier in the tank, The Poison Woman, The Thief and The Mustard Gas crew.  He’s taken two lives — one symbolically and one literally. And no amount of dreaming about starting a new life will ever erase that.

  1. “Life And Death” :

“When we dance
It looks just like fire
When we sing it
It sounds the same tone
We all have hearts
We all have homes
But when we die
We die alone”

The final track appears to be from the perspective of The Boy and his fellow soldiers. They comment on the fragile nature of life. The attempt to live a meaningful life is almost futile. The only thing left from your identity when you die is memories.  In the end, when we die we are all boiled down to the same thing. All of the things we thought that matter and all the things that were the center of are lives cease to matter. We all try to live meaningful lives that will leave a mark but in the end we all wind up in the same place: dead and alone.

“Oh, what a mess
As everything descends
Oh, what a mess
But everything amends

Such it was so long ago
We always tried but failed
And now with new found consciousness
We stand here waiting
Waiting to die”

The Boy thinks about everything he’s been through and what a mess it was. He talks about the essential price to his “new found consciousness”. The only way one could adapt a whole new life is to leave his old one behind. Leaving you an empty shell, just going through the motions and waiting to die.

“One of these days
You will learn to love again
One of these days
He will learn to love again”

However, through all of this, the one thing our protagonist has not completely let go of is his desire to find love.  In the end, that’s all this story has really been about, and to that end, our protagonist’s story and mission are far from over.

well this was pretty long, but that’s the end of this part. I do hope I’ll get back to posting these on a more regular basis. only two more acts to go. Let us know what you think about the story so far in the comments.

 

 

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