Memory And Death In Tim O Brien's The Things They Carried

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Gloria Swanson once said, “Life and death. They are somehow sweetly and beautifully mixed, but I don’t know how”. Throughout the nonlinear novel The Things They Carried, Tim O’Brien writes stories about his experiences surrounding the Vietnam War. He writes stories with intense memories and even descriptions of death in order to give readers the feeling of truly being there. With the goal of providing deeper understanding, O’Brien uses memory and death to convey the feelings on being in war. O’Brien uses storytelling and memory throughout the book, but it is especially prevalent in the chapter “How to Tell a True War Story”. In this chapter, he shows that stories can be told in multiple perspectives. This theme develops strongly through the chapter. O’Brien conveys to readers that stories can be told in many different ways, depending on interpretation by the storyteller and listener when he writes, “You can’t extract the meaning without unravelling the deeper meaning.” (O’Brien 74). This shows that every war story has different connections and meanings for everyone who either tells or hears the story. Throughout the chapter “Spin”, O’Brien talks about how important stories are in order to bring back thoughts and memories. In this chapter, O’Brien showed that his platoon was able to make fun out of the bad situations they were put in by finding something to distract them from the grueling war. He reiterated this when he writes, “On occasion, war was like a
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