Mental Effects Of War In The Things They Carried

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War damages a man's soul. Tim O'Brien writes about the horrifying impact of war in his life, and in the lives of his comrades in The Things They Carried. The book shows the stories of O’Brien’s fellow soldiers before, during, and after the war. These short stories that were collected after the war told us the innermost thoughts of various members of his platoon. The soldiers told us how the war impacted them throughout their lives. These men carried many non-material possessions throughout their time in Vietnam, such as the hopes of family, the hope of reciprocated love, and the deaths of close friends. When the majority of soldiers returned they no longer could live in society. The Things They Carried shows the terrible impact that war has …show more content…

Even though the war was over, the characters would find it difficult to escape the grip of their traumatic past, resulting in persistent emotional distress and a sense of alienation. Tim O'Brien himself struggled with fighting the mental damage done to him. He reflects, "Even now, I'll admit, the story makes me squirm. For more than twenty years, I've had to live with it, feeling the shame, trying to push it away, and so by this act of remembrance, by putting the facts down on paper, I'm hoping to relieve at least some of the pressure on my dreams" (37).This shows the ongoing impact of war on Tim O'Brien's mentality long after conflict had ended. The shame and burden of his experiences continues to haunt him, manifesting in his dreams and subconscious. The whole book was meant to be a release, in hopes of calming his turbulent soul from the damage the war had to his psyche. The war also leaves the characters grappling with the burdens of guilt and remorse, this impacts their mental well-being long after the combat had ended. Tim O'Brien himself, as both the author and a character in the novel, reflects on the enduring effects of war on his mentality. He confesses, "I survived, but it's not a happy ending. I was a coward. I went to the war" (234). The weight of his experiences in the war continued to torment him, leading him to question his own courage and actions. O'Brien talks about the lasting impacts of war on his mental state, and his struggle to reconcile his wartime choices with his personal view on himself. The burden the war placed on the minds of the characters caused them to feel guilty years after the battle had ended. The war caused them to struggle with self identity and made it impossible for them to feel comfortable, even in their own

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