Enemies And Friends Analysis

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In the two stories, “Enemies’ and “Friends”, from Tim O'Brien's The Things They Carried, O’Brien introduces two men, Jensen and Strunk. They are both fighting for the same side, but act violently toward one another for no real reason. The social codes and contracts that society is normally governed by have become arbitrary. Most of the time, those who steal are punished so they know that they shouldn’t do it again and so justice has been enacted. However, in the first story, “Enemies,” the complete lack of an attempt by Jensen and Strunk to resolve their conflict using peaceful and healthy conversation, or even going to a superior, demonstrates that normal social contracts have begun to break down. Instead they get into a fist fight over it, and Jensen breaks Strunk’s nose. It is obvious that O’Brien is showing us how the desperation of war dismantles social codes and norms. Jensen’s assumption that Strunk will try to enact a sort of eye-for-an-eye revenge, is a complete breakdown of most social codes. It drives him utterly insane and causes him to break his own nose in front of Strunk to try to make things “even.” Unbenounced to Jensen, Strunk just assumes that…show more content…
In “Enemies,” he assumes that he has broken a social code by hurting Strunk badly and must therefore feel awful, so he reconciles it in a way he deems fair according to his code. Then also in “Friends,” he feels he has broken a social code by not honoring the terms of his pact with Strunk, even though Strunk is the one who waves off the pact. The when he finds out that Strunk died, he is relieved because now the terms of the pact have been honored, instead of just voided. Now in normal circumstances, this would be seen as contrary to what society would deem a normal social code of friendship. But because it is war, Jensen’s actions in breaking the social code are
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