Summary of “Stockings”
The author tells about Henry Dobbins, the soldier who superstitiously ties his girlfriend's pantyhose around his neck for good luck. Dobbins is compared to America “big and strong, full of good intentions . . . a believer in the virtues . . . drawn toward sentimentality” (p. 111). The men tease him, but they notice he comes through unwounded without a scratch on him. Even when his girlfriend dumps him, he insists the pantyhose are still magic.
Commentary on “Stockings”
This is a humorous story with a satiric undertone. O'Brien makes Dobbins symbolic of America, full of sentiment and good intentions in its belief that the war is virtuous and fighting the threat of communism. This belief might turn out to be as naïve as Dobbins thinking the pantyhose is going to save him. Even when he hears news of his girlfriend's selling him out, as Americans heard about the administration of the Vietnam War, he keeps on in his belief.