Guilt In The Things They Carried By Tim O Brien

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In The Things They Carried, Tim O’Brien depicts a story of people who are riddled with guilt about the people around them dying. Rat, Bowker, and O’Brien handled their guilt in different ways. Rat acts in a violent way, Bowker treats the deaths as if they aren’t humans and they are just objects that he lost, and O’Brien handles it by making sure people get their stories out there, and they are “true war stories”. “How to Tell a True War Story” talks about Rat and how his best friend died. Rat is only 19 years old, so he’s young, and he has to go through this tragic incident. O’Brien says, “Twenty years later, I can still see the sunlight on Lemon’s face. I can see him turning, looking back and Rat Kiley, then he laughed and took that curious …show more content…

It was a very emotional letter for Rat to write, and she couldn’t even write him back a thank you or anything. Rat took the death pretty hard. Before he ever wrote to Lemon’s sister, he went crazy and started shooting a baby buffalo. “He stepped back and shot it through the right front knee… Rat took careful aim and shot off an ear. He shot it in the hindquarters and in the little hump at its back. He shot it twice in the flanks… He put the rifle muzzle up against the mouth and shot the mouth away… Curt Lemon was dead. Rat Kiley had lost his best friend in the world… He shot off the tail. He shot away chunks of meat below the ribs… Rat went to automatic. He shot randomly, almost casually, quick little spurts in the belly and butt. Then he reloaded, squatted down, and shot it in the left front knee… Rat shot it in the nose. He bent forward and whispered something, as if talking to a pet, then he shot it in the throat” (49). Rat went absolutely ballistic and took his anger out on a baby animal. He handled his guilt with violence. In “Speaking of Courage” O’Brien talks about how Bowker took the death of Kiowa personally. He thinks that it’s his fault, but he also doesn’t treat it as someone died, he treats it as some possession that got lost. “Turning on his headlights, driving slowly, Norman Bowker remembered how he had taken ahold of Kiowa’s boot and pulled hard, but how …show more content…

Bowker said that it wasn’t terrible, but he left out Vietnam. He left out Kiowa, and he left out the field (94). 8 months later Bowker hanged himself. O’Brien said “Now, a decade after his death, I’m hoping that “Speaking of Courage” makes good on Norman Bowker’s silence. And I hope it’s a better story… It was hard stuff to write. Kiowa, after all, had been a close friend, and for years I’ve avoided thinking about his death and my own complicity in it. Even here it’s not easy,” (94). O’Brien made sure that he revised the story. He wrote the whole thing, without telling a lie. He didn’t want to sugar coat it, because he felt that he owed it to

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