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“Love in the Air” by Ha Jin captured the soldiers very well, in a very heartbreaking way. The soldiers were all depicted as young men, so young that they don’t even know if women have hair on their bodies, who are so lonely they will fall in love with a voice, or lose their position over the mention of a woman in the area. It’s heartbreaking how these characters have a sense of hope when it comes to this woman and it’s heartbreaking that they are so lonely they need this sense of hope to continue on.  

The plot of this story is very interesting, a man falling in love with the voice of a woman he is telegraphing in the army. It automatically creates a forbidden love when he is limited to saying only necessary words for her, or the Russians could find him. His chances with her are zero because of the nature of their situation. Conversing is so forbidden he can’t even ask her name. The plot itself creates a perfect amount of tension and creates some very real stakes for the narrator, something that can be hard to do in a story. This story also does not have a lot of action. It is mostly reflective, the narrator thinking. In a few places there is some dialogue, but there is not a lot of movement. The interesting plot and the tension created by the plot are necessary to keep the story from being stagnant and dull.

I really appreciate that the narrator never talks to her again and never meets her at all. It makes it realistic. In this situation, if he had talked to her, called her, found out her name on his own, it would have felt fake, forced, too easy. But that doesn’t happen. He’s a soldier, not a knight in a fairy tale, and the sad ending is necessary. It was also necessary for Shi to be caught and punished for his behavior. It is again heartbreaking when the narrator thinks the woman is now fickle and he feels angry towards her for talking to Shi. It shows just how much he has placed her up a pedestal, because of his loneliness and youngness, and how far his thoughts and obsession have progressed.

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