Moral Confusion In The Things They Carried

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The Vietnam War leaves a legacy of moral confusion with each and every soldier who serves. Soldiers are fighting for a cause they do not necessarily believe in, killing people who do not necessarily deserve it, and watching their brothers die beside them. Tim O’Briens’ book, The Things They Carried, illustrates the soldiers struggle to define morality throughout the confusion of the war. On the Rainy River, Tim O’Brien faces what he feels is his moral obligation to answer his country’s call and fight in Vietnam, and a personal moral issue with the reason for the war. “The only certainty that summer was moral confusion. It was my view then, and still is, that you don 't make war without knowing why. Knowledge, of course, is always imperfect,…show more content…
Answering the call to serve causes enough moral conflict and killing for the war only adds to it. Tim O’Brien struggles to make sense of his thoughts after killing a Vietnamese man while outside of My Khe. O’Brien writes “The Man I Killed” detailing how the man’s disfigured appearance looks repetitively, and dreaming about what the man’s life must of been like before his death. Afterwards O’Brien reflects saying, “It was entirely automatic. I did not hate the young man; I did not see him as the enemy…” (p. 126). Though he does not see him as the enemy, O’Brien reacts as he had been taught to in war; to forget most of your morals and shoot before you can be shot first, a fact Kiowa points out to him. “Later, I remember, Kiowa tried to tell me that the man would 've died anyway. He told me that it was a good kill, that I was a soldier and this was a war, that I should shape up and stop staring and ask myself what the dead man would ' ve done if things were reversed” (p. 127). Soldiers are expected to forget their morals and act as a soldier should. This leaves many confused with their actions and searching for their lost

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