A Piece of My Heart

Everything About Fiction You Never Wanted to Know.
Jump to navigation Jump to search
Agent Orange Disease is just a BLAST!

'"Because you are a Red Cross girl! THE All-American Girl to every service man you meet!


A 2006 play by Shirley Lauro to remind us that the Vietnam War was just as horrific for the women involved.

The two-act play follows six women (four nurses, a Red Cross volunteer, and an intelligence officer) before, during, and after the war. Said jumble of characters includes Sissy, a rather naive but sweet girl from Pennsylvania; Whitney, a seemingly prim and proper Vassar graduate with a secret; Martha, an army brat who discovers Vietnam might be more than she bargained for; Steele, an African-American woman who despite being the most capable of the lot seems to always get treated as the Cassandra; Maryjo, a country-rock singer and professional ditz who goes over to entertain the troops; and Leeann, the half-Chinese, half-Italian who just wanted to go to Hawaii, but instead gets routinely mistaken for Vietnamese.

Equal parts Narm Charm and unintentional hilarity, it still manages to be touching.

Tropes used in A Piece of My Heart include:
  • Double Entendre: Leeann's first diary entry. It means exactly what you think it means.

'LEEANN': Hank is ringing my chimes!

  • Les Yay: A strikingly funny scene (though not written that way) between Jane and Whitney.
  • Sassy Black Woman: Steele, on occasion.
  • "It's Not Rape If You Enjoyed It": What Maryjo seems to think (at least for a while) about her unfortunate encounter with some grunts in Nha Trang. Later subverted when she does call it rape.
  • Token Minority: Both Steele and Leeann. Though the play was based off a book of the same name chronicling the real life experiences of women who served in Vietnam, their specific inclusion in the play (which mashed together the experiences of many of the women in the book) falls under this trope.
  • Girl Next Door: Sissy.
  • The Alcoholic: Whitney.
  • Almost-Dead Guy: The dying soldiers, sort of. This troper feels that, despite the fact that the dying soldiers don't give the protagonists key information, there are so many of them that they should get a trope in recognition.
  • The Sixties: And how!
  • Freak-Out: Every character, one by one, starting midway through Act II. That's what you get when your psyche's been slowly, painfully eroded by war experience.
  • Mildly Military: Subverted. The nurses go through hell and have to follow strict orders. This isn't M*A*S*H.
  • Suddenly Sexuality: Whitney. She has Jane in Act I (see above), and then a string of men in Act II, followed by a declaration that all her friends are women.
  • Black and Nerdy: Steele, somewhat, as she is arguably the most intelligent out of all the characters.
  • Pensieve Flashback
  • Reunion Kiss: The finale.
  • The One Guy: Originally, all male characters (of which there were MANY!) were played by a single male actor, but some productions split the role up to two or more guys.
  • Title Drop: Done by Martha, quite dramatically, towards the end of Act I.
  • Department of Redundancy Department: Quite often, in the script.

'LEEANN': Regardless of color, skin, or race.


' MAN': I mean, they didn't have to go in the first place, right? Million easy ways to avoid the draft.

    • ...and impossibly annoying to the soldiers:

' G.I.': Dear Santa! I want a draft-dodging, anti-war demonstrator in my stocking please!

  • Sex, Drugs and Rock and Roll: Generally, whenever the script gets tired of mass casualties for the nurses, it breaks up the warfare with a bit of this.
  • Mary Tzu: Steele accumulates bucketloads of ribbons and medals, has a resumé to put the Dos Equis man to shame, and predicts the Tet Offensive thirty days in advance. It would be pretty annoying, except nobody gives her the respect said accomplishments should engender.
  • Overranked Soldier: Justified, though. Nurses (and a lot of the servicemen) got ridiculous promotions straight away so somebody would be in charge.
  • Don't You Dare Pity Me!: Leeann's quite a fan of this one during her Act II mental breakdown:

' LEEANN': No! DON'T YOU TOUCH ME! You don't know what this is like for me!

  • Guy of the Week: Postwar Whitney has quite a few. Bruce, Steve, Richard (married), Pete, her "women friends"...
  • Obligatory War Crime Scene: Not sure if it qualifies as a war crime, but Leeann's attempted strangling of the young VC member is definitely an example of "no black and white morality here, folks."
  • Orchestral Bombing: Weird version, because this takes place after the war, and it's all in their heads. At one point, the women collectively go insane with war imagery, and about five trillion layered tracks (cannons, choppers...carolers) start playing in the background.
  • Stalker with a Crush: Postwar Maryjo follows Clint cross-country from Colorado to Vermont after he breaks up with her. They then live together for six more years.
  • "Join the Army," They Said: Why Whitney joins. She sees a Red Cross form on the placement board and decides Vietnam sounds like a pretty good idea. Because they speak FRENCH.