Morality In O Brien's The Things They Carried

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Moral degradation is a necessary evil in order to survive through war; therefore, construction of a new morality is inescapable. Within the stories in The Things They Carried, soldiers are required to do so during and after the Vietnam War. War breeds monstrosities and wanton cruelty. When faced with two evils, picking the lesser immoral option is not necessarily something to be frowned upon. This is what separates a soldier’s morality and a civilian’s morality. Civilians see things through a black-and-white perspective; strong, simple standards dictate acceptable behavior. Aggressive behavior (e.g. assault and murder) is consistently condemned and punished accordingly through a fair and just system. There is no such system for a soldier. In war, killing, something generally agreed to be wrong, is deemed as morally upright as long as its an enemy. Nonetheless, this does not mean the soldiers live without a code of ethics. For example: Jimmy Cross demonstrates guilt for his fellow soldier’s death and a commitment to becoming a better leader (O’Brien, 5). It’s just that the duty of a soldier is filled with immoral actions. Their understanding of what is ethical and what is not is blurred; only seeing the numerous shades of gray. As a result, soldiers must contrive a new moral system that values injustice as an honorable way to fulfill their duty and citizen’s expectations. In one of the stories, On the Rainy Day, O’Brien faces a moral quandary after receiving his draft
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