Cowardice In The Things They Carried By Tim O Brien

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Speaking of Courage and Cowardice… In the novel The Things They Carried Tim O’Brien brings up the subjects of courage and cowardice in a number of situations. O’Brien elaborates on both, the concept of cowardice, and the concept of courage, generally, and even brings examples of cowardly actions, and courageous ones. Although, something that is notable in his description of courage and cowardice is that he does not draw a clear line between the two. In fact, he makes it seem like in some cases courageous act is the same as cowardly act in other cases. Author contradicts himself, since he implies that the same action can be both courageous, and cowardly. “They carried the common secret of cowardice barely restrained, the instinct to run or freeze or hide, and in many respects this was the heaviest burden of all, for it could never be put down, it required perfect balance and perfect posture.”(p.21) This quote clearly describes how running, and hiding are the displays of cowardice. The instinct to run and hide in fear resides in every soldier, but they try their best to hide it, since it is the weakness, it is the flaw; it is cowardice. On the other hand, the following quote describes the same action, with a radically different connotation: “I would not swim away from my hometown and my country and my life. I…show more content…
Courageous acts described in the book, do not fit the general description of the courage author gives in the chapter “On the Rainy River”. While in that chapter author made it seem like running away was courageous, and going to war was cowardly, in other chapters we see that it is exactly the opposite. Whether O’Brien did that deliberately or not is another thing. But, the fact is that O’Brien contradicts himself in describing cowardice and courage, making these two inconsistent notions represent the same
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