Courage In Tim O Brien's The Things They Carried

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In the novel The Things They Carried, Tim O’Brien expresses to the reader why the men went to the war and continued to fight it. In the first chapter, “The Things They Carried,” O’Brien states “It was not courage, exactly; the object was not valor. Rather they were too frightened to be cowards.” The soldiers went to war not because they were courageous and ready to fight, but because they felt the need to go. They were afraid and coped with their lack of courage by telling stories (to themselves or aloud) and applied humor to the situations they encountered. The men who served in the Vietnam War were just barely men, some of them were just hitting the age twenty. It was the draft which brought these boys into the fight involuntarily, to fight a war which they saw no meaning in. Many of these boys are the sons of veterans who fought in World War II, that came home to parades and were held up like heroes for fighting. Honorary men of the country and the soldiers fighting for Vietnam did not want to disappoint them. Thus, when O’Brien mentions in the quote, valor was not the point, he is trying to explain to the reader that the men went like it was a job they had to do, not a random act of courage that willed them to proceed. The draft pulled them into it. They did not want to dishonor their fathers, their country and society who told them fighting is honorable. In “The Things They Carried,” it was this ‘dishonor’ that had lead them to enter the war, it was “nothing
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