How Does Tim O Brien Present The Transformation In The Things They Carried

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Tim O’Brien’s The Things They Carried explores the experiences of soldiers in the Vietnam War, along with their thoughts and memories. Though the events that take place could be exaggerated or completely made up, the thoughts and feelings of the characters still shine through and feel very real. The stories use a grim and uncontrollable atmosphere juxtaposed with the normality of human action that works to suggest war is above common morality yet defends the humanity of the soldiers who fight it.
O'Brien begins his novel by listing the various items soldiers would carry to emphasize the literal weight on their shoulders, helping the reader see the humanity in these fighters. He uses the numerical poundage, which gives an understanding of how …show more content…

O’Brien describes himself as an unreliable narrator a couple of times throughout his book, but every thought and feeling of the characters he writes is very real, giving the reader glimpses into what Vietnam was really like. One story told by Rat Kiley embodies the transformation from innocence while in Vietnam. Having someone ship a girlfriend to spend time with them in Vietnam is not very realistic in a war setting; however, the evolution of her character is. Women are often pictured in literature as innocent beings, incapable of taking care of themselves, as in the introduction of the character Marry Anne. She was just "this seventeen-year-old doll in her goddamn culottes, perky and fresh-faced, like a cheerleader visiting the opposing team’s locker room. Her pretty blue eyes seemed to glow" (O’Brien 96). She is awe-stricken by Vietnam and is taken care of by the soldiers. Her boyfriend had control over her, and she was innocent. This is a perfect representation of a fresh soldier coming into war with nothing to fear and an army to hold them up. This soldier still embodies their ideals of home and peace, lacking any exposure to gore and only being there to take orders. However, as Mary Anne continues her stay, she begins tackling gruesome medical work, slowly desensitizing and changing her. The changes Vietnam enacts on her make her unrecognizable, like the many soldiers in similar situations. She begins yearning for the war and can’t get enough of it. In the end, her boyfriend is left lost to his previous lover, exclaiming, "I can’t find her" (O’Brien 100). Just like many soldiers in the war, Mary Anne became addicted to the war and a shell of the person she once embodied. The weight dropped on soldiers during the war is so heavy

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