Guilt In The Things They Carried By Tim O Brien

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In the novel The Things They Carried by Tim O’Brian, the death of Kiowa helps develop the motifs of guilt and shame consequently affecting the meaning of the book to surviving the war. Kiowa proved a genuine friend to O’Brian and the rest of the platoon not simply through his words, but his dignity and actions. When he died, it was brutal and dehumanizing, ultimately causing much guilt and blame throughout the entirety of the book. O’Brian even claimed “when a man died, there had to be blame." This blame and guilt affected the novel and shifted the tone entirely. Kiowa was mentioned in the book as someone who had not in particular been affected by the war. He was diligent and hardworking, but O’Biran also portrayed him as a humble character. …show more content…

Even after two decades O’Brian still suffers and explains, “I’d gone under with Kiowa, and now after two decades I’d finally worked my way out (O’Brien 125). He means what when Kiowa died he “went under” with him. It felt comparable as if he died and drowned along with Kiowa and was merely revived when he went back to the field, then the burden was finally lifted. He then didn’t feel the guilt of it being his fault. Just as O’Brian suffered, many others did. While it wasn’t physical at first, it affected them drastically mentally. Rat Kiley was a prime example on how Kiowa affected the book. Kiley’s mentality changed and he no longer could be the savior to others and shot himself in the foot. This brought him to Japan directing the meaning of the book towards surviving the war mentally. It was as if everyone had blamed themselves for Kiowa's death although it wasn’t anyone’s fault entirely. O’Brian explained it as, "But I was present, you see, and my presence was guilt enough” (O’Brien 120). It wasn’t that any individual was solely responsible for the death, but the presence and having the power and opportunity of being …show more content…

They each blamed each other and themselves for certain events, such as Kiowa’s death; all of which affected themselves as a person inside the war, and following the war. Within the book, Jimmy Cross explains his view and attitude towards the unexpected death: “There was nothing he could do now, but still it was a mistake and a hideous waste. He felt sick about it” (O’Brian 164). Cross’s feeling of guilt for Kiowa's death he feels was because of his lack of intuition and courage was the reason for his death. Not exclusively does Cross blame himself, but others also end up blaming Cross. They are all haunted and looking for someone to blame rather than themselves. L.T still felt responsible because of how he was in charge of the young men. This highly affected the characters in the novel during and after the war. Each person held that guilt and carried it throughout their lives. Ironically, along with that guilt came relief and happiness. While they all lamed themselves, they all were happy that it wasn’t them. While none of them mentioned it or spoke the words, they all felt it. O’Brian described it as, “Though it’s odd, you’re never more alive than when you're almost dead” (O’Brien ___). This brought characters mixed feelings which ended up harming them mentally. Rat Kiley struggled with this guild. He tried his best to exist as

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