How Does Tim O Brien Show Courage In The Things They Carried

1955 Words8 Pages

Lily Trunk
Mrs. Aldridge
English 102
3 May 2023
What do They Carry No one wins a war; soldiers lose themselves if not their life, families lose light and love, and countries lose their honor to the men that they ruin in combat. Soldiers carry hidden emotional trauma and struggle to fit societal standards. This is certified in Tim O’Brien’s novel The Things They Carried. Tim O’Brien’s novel features stories of soldiers during the Vietnam War, and highlights the emotional trauma soldiers bear as they struggle to fit the harsh societal standards set upon them. The Things They Carried is a quasi-memoiristic collection of war stories that are all interconnected and flow together to create one story of humanity. O’Brien uses his own experiences …show more content…

The Things They Carried brings a new light to the word courage to show how hard soldiers feel the pressure to fit the societal standards set for them. Courage for a soldier does not simply mean performing in a combat situation and killing your enemy or accomplishing your mission, however during the time of the Vietnam War soldiers were viewed differently by society. By one-half of society, they were honored but only if they acted courageously, by the other half they were hated and seen as aggressors, killers, and monsters, therefore they put burdens on themselves to constantly display courage and lack fear. In The Things They Carried a new light to courage is given by showing that even the toughest men were inwardly afraid to die “but they were even more afraid to show it” (O’Brien 19).A societal obligation is a pressure set forth by society that changes the way one acts or the decision one makes. Societal obligation is the reason that many soldiers joined the Vietnam War, not for honor or courage but simply for fear of embarrassment. Society has long-held standards for soldiers as they are viewed as symbols of strength and patriotism, so they are expected to conduct themselves with honor and courage at all times. O’Brien writes “They carried the soldier’s greatest fear, which was the fear of blushing. Men killed, and died because they were embarrassed not to” (O’Brien 20), soldiers carry their reputations they carry the fear of cowardness and dishonor perhaps the heaviest fear of all as it could never be let down. In the article “Challenging the Law of Courage and Heroic Identification in Tim O’Brien’s If I Die in a Combat Zone and The Things They Carried” Carl S. Horner describes how societal pressures affect the male psyche, and how men specifically are affected by old notions. During the time of the Vietnam War, most soldiers were young men, usually under thrity years old, who were especially susceptible to the unachievable masculine values

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