Figurative Language In Tim O Brien's The Things They Carried

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The Vietnam War spanning over two decades was a complex conflict that was fought through America’s outlook of containing communism in Europe. The multifaceted perspectives of the Vietnam War and unclear military objectives caused confusion for soldiers. As a result, a majority of soldiers felt pushed into a war that they didn’t fully understand, leading to lifelong psychological consequences. Although many believe soldiers are fearless and can tolerate the trauma of war, in The Things They Carried, Tim O’Brien illuminates the underlying effects of war on soldiers that aren't immediately apparent to the naked eye, highlighting the physical and emotional struggles within soldiers' daily lives. O’Brien’s use of figurative language immerses readers …show more content…

The grueling Vietnam War, disrupting the lives of soldiers and their families, un-packs its complexities through the journey of the soldiers. After the death of Curt Lemon, a fellow soldier, O’Brien exclaims, “War is hell, but that’s not the half of it, because war is also mystery and terror and adventure and courage and discovery and holiness and pity and despair and longing and love” (80). O’Brien’s metaphor conveys his perception of the Vietnam War while setting a strong precedent of what the war really was like. Furthermore, it is evident that the complexities of war are hard to navigate as soldiers, tearing away at their mental health, revealing soldier’s experiences at war that corrode their overall well-being. Furthermore, this toll on overall-well being can be self-inflicted when soldiers assign blame to themselves as guilt culminates into lifelong burdens. This is made clearer when Jimmy Cross blames himself for Ted Lavender's death, as O’Brien explains, “He felt shame. He hated himself. He had loved Martha more than his men, and as a consequence Lavender was now dead, and this was something he would have to carry like a stone in his stomach for the rest of the war” (16). Jimmy’s decision to place the tragedy upon himself shows how quick soldiers try to resolve traumatic experiences, subconsciously setting themselves up to rot with the emotional burdens they create. Moreover, O’Briens simile instantiates the emotional vulnerability of soldiers which distinctly outweighs the horrors of war by creating endless stress and

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