Imagery In The Things They Carry, By Tim O Brien

1652 Words7 Pages

Many stories throughout history attempt to recreate what war seemingly feels like. War is largely undescribable to those who have not actually experienced it, but literary devices can bridge the gap between actual experience and “experience” gained strictly through reading. Specifically, in The Things They Carry, the author appeals to the reader's senses and by doing this creates an image in the reader’s mind. This image helps the reader create an empathetic and more legitimate depiction of the war experience. Furthermore, word choice helps the reader decipher the mucky world of war by creating imagery that helps them relate to their own experiences. In The Things They Carry, by Tim O'Brien, the author uses imagery and diction to immerse the …show more content…

In the short story “On the Rainy River” O’Brien deliberates numerous options for the future and how to evade the draft. When O’Brien finds himself on a boat floating a river between Canada and America he considers it as a means of escaping, however, he cannot leave. So desperately a young O’Brien wants to leave the boat, start a new life, cling on to being a normal teenager, but society will not let him, “I did try. It just wasn’t possible. All those eyes on me - the town, the whole universe - and I couldn’t risk the embarrassment. It was as if there were an audience to my life, that swirl of faces along the river, and in my head I could hear people screaming at me” (58). Through O'Brien’s powerful image of “All those eyes on me”, the reader feels the eyes staring down upon them and the weight the young man carries, relating back to times when the reader was pressured to do things they did not want to, but felt like they had to due to the pressure. “It was if there were an audience to my life” grasps to expectations to succeed and connects the reader to the stress experienced by O’Brien. The phrasing “I couldn’t risk the embarrassment” encapsulates the pressures put on men. The crowd, representing society, places so much pressure on the individual and forces them to conform to the societal stereotypes or be left deserted. During this time period these young …show more content…

More specifically, through repetition of imagery and diction the reader feels the very real and out of proportion pressures on men, thus providing a realistic experience for the reader. One sees the social pressures placed on men to join the war and put up a mask of bravery when inside they yearn for comfort and stability. Over time, the social tension is too great and these men are made to conform to “identical copies of soldiers” dehumanizing them into one stereotype. This is the life of a young man at war, both in a metaphorical and a physical sense. These stereotypes transcend war and apply to everyday life as well. Society often times puts pressure onto individuals based on perceived ideal stereotypes, when in reality all the individual wants is to live their own

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