At some point, all people must accept the harsh truth of mortality. When people realize it for the first time, they can go through a change in character. The young medic Rat Kiley, a character in Tim O’Brien’s The Things They Carried, exemplifies this. His reaction to the sudden death of his best friend Curt Lemon, as portrayed in “How to Tell a True War Story,” depicts the shift of character that accompanies loss. Moreover, it reflects the inability of soldiers to return to normalcy after experiencing the traumas of grief. There are two phases to Kiley’s reaction: torturing a baby water buffalo and writing a letter to Lemon’s sister. The former conveys loss’ ability to corrode a victim’s mind, while the latter reveals a barrier between the soldiers and regular members of society. By …show more content…
As Kiley begins, O’Brien notes that his goal is “not to kill, [but] to hurt” (O’Brien, 79). O’Brien clarifies Kiley’s intentions to emphasize the contrast between him being a medic and a torturer. Additionally, O’Brien elucidates the death of Kiley’s psyche by equating him with his victim. He remarks that, while crying, Kiley “[tries] to say something, but then [cradles] his rifle and [goes] off by himself” (79). Similarly, he states that the buffalo was silent, excluding a light bubbling sound where its nose had been (79). By torturing the buffalo, Kiley reflects his decaying psyche onto the physical body of the buffalo; in the end, both try to scream but have no mouth to do so with. The buffalo, therefore, is a symbol of Kiley himself, just hurting in a different way than he. The scenario with Kiley and the buffalo expresses the destruction of the former’s psyche along with the latter’s body. While this scenario shows the deterioration of Kiley’s psyche, the next conveys the lasting barrier between the soldiers and
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"The mind fills in for what the eyes don’t see, and surprise can make us perceive events differently. As these events replay over and over again in our heads, we discover fictional nuances that, while they may not be real, may represent our emotions towards the said events. This exact process can be found in Tim O’Brien’s The Things They Carried, in the description of the deaths of Curt Lemon and the baby water buffalo. Beautiful: the way that Tim O’Brien describes Curt Lemon’s death.
It is interesting to read the war stories as told by Tim O’brien in “The Things We Carried”. There are several captivating depictions illustrating to readers what the standard criteria are for truth during storytelling. He maps for us how to determine the truth of a war story. Emphasizing the perspective of the author. O’brien makes the statement that being a real or actual event is not a prerequisite for truth.
If asked about the warfare, the sedated soldier, Ted Lavender, would reply, “Mellow, man. We got ourselves a nice mellow war today” (O’Brien 33). Indeed, it is a fact that Ted is physically and mentally numb to his chaotic environment due to him using his tranquilizers to calm himself. Here, in making this comment, Ted is displaying how he is avoiding the reality of the battle by actually numbing his body and mind to have a less stressful life during conflicts up until the moment he perished. In further accordance to what O’Brien witnessed, Rat Kiley maliciously harmed a buffalo, but “it wasn’t to kill, it was to hurt” as Rat “put the rifle muzzle up against the mouth and shot the mouth away” for instance (O’Brien 76).
The Things They Carried is a war novel written by former soldier Tim O’Brien. This novel is a depiction of experiences that O’Brien endured while serving in the war. This powerful and unique novel expresses many themes such as mortality, bravery, and the weight of physical and emotional burdens, which help weave together the horrors of life as a soldier. In The Things They Carried, being a story about war, the theme of mortality is written many times throughout the book.
The physical damage and emotional depreciation that the characters go through in the book, The Things They Carried by Tim O’Brien, support the themes of the story by showing the traumatic effects the soldiers endure as a result of the war. December 1, 1969, changed lives of many people because it was the date that renewed mandatory service. The US draft for Vietnam brought many young boys into new surroundings and sent them crawling with an invisible enemy. Their normal lives were forever changed. No longer surrounded by familiar faces, their new homes were now foxholes, forcing them to stay alert at all times.
Throughout the entire novel Tim O’brien depicts how each of his fellow platoon members are controlled by their subconscious mind. In this specific chapter, through O’brien’s use of imagery, we are allowed to see how traumatizing and brain picking the realities of war actually is. Rat Kiley, the protagonist of this chapter, has finally had too much, from witnessing people die at war to being placed in the darkness, and he’s reached his breaking point. Everyone knew that Rat was losing his mind and, “it was a sad thing to watch” (221). It was sad because they were aware of the reason behind his actions, which was the war itself, but it was also sad because his fellow troops knew there was nothing that they could do to help him and that they were just as susceptible to falling into the same madness that captured Rat Kiley.
“We who have seen war never stop seeing it” by unknown. In the novel The Things They Carried by Tim O’Brien, the main characters, Tim and his platoon are drafted to fight in the Vietnam War. This book is a collection of memories being told out of order, twenty years later. The book begins in Vietnam and goes through the experience of each soldier. It gives the cold hard truth about the Vietnam War.
Death is an inevitable part of the life cycle. To bring those who are gone back to life, people must recreate their memories with the deceased through storytelling. In the novel The Things They Carried, Tim O’Brien shows that when someone experiences a loss, by telling stories of the lost one it will keep them alive through the mind and help one cope with them being gone. In the first chapter, The Things They Carried, O’Brien demonstrates the theme of telling stories to cope with death by how the platoon members talk about Ted Lavender’s death, “Like cement, Kiowa whispered in the dark.
“I survived, but it’s not a happy ending” (O’Brien 58). A veteran’s pain does not end when they are relieved of duty and sent home. Many veterans are unsure how to deal with the horrors they experience during and after the war, and negative coping mechanisms can arise from those struggles. The novel, The Things They Carried by Tim O’Brien, is an accurate representation of real life because the characters use negative coping mechanisms to overcome hardships during and after the Vietnam War.
The War of Emotions The emotion in the The Things They Carried by Tim O’Brien emulate the literal and physical things the soldiers take with them. The tranquilizers, pantyhose, and water buffalo symbolize the anxiety, longing, and sometimes rage felt during the war, and reflect how traumatizing the experience is. The soldiers in the Vietnam War carried many physical items with them. Many of the things they carried were because of necessity.
War is an ambiguous matter. From one perspective, it is seen as a glorious act of valor, benefitting the nation and bringing peace to a victorious land once drenched in blood. On the other hand, however, war is a massacre; a useless act of violence that only brings more death and destruction. While focusing on the bigger picture of war’s influence on the world is often the most popular discussion, the individual aspect of war in which soldiers’ deal with their own personal struggles is often forgotten. Through the novel, The Things They Carried, the author, Tim O’Brien, teaches his readers that war compels soldiers to become morally ambiguous.
Kiley as well has lost all tolerance in the difficulties of war as he worries about insipid bugs. Kiley’s platoon sympathizes him as he nearly scratches the skin off his body. Ultimately, the platoon accepts and understands Kiley’s decision, considering what Kiley has
Both Timothy Findley’s ‘The Wars’ and Kurt Vonnegut’s ‘Slaughterhouse Five’ delve into extreme detail on the absurdity and tragedy of war and life itself. The books and the characters within are often befuddled, bemused, or held subject to the mad whims of a world that is ultimately apathetic to whether they live or die. Both books utilize their unique narrative structures to emphasize the absurd nature of death, specifically, the meaning of death in wartime. The authors of both stories utilize the effect that the deaths of others have on the protagonists, the selective revealing of information to both the readers and the characters, as well as the beliefs and thoughts of important figures in the narrative to impart two very powerful messages
In The Things They Carried, Tim O’Brien depicts a story of people who are riddled with guilt about the people around them dying. Rat, Bowker, and O’Brien handled their guilt in different ways. Rat acts in a violent way, Bowker treats the deaths as if they aren’t humans and they are just objects that he lost, and O’Brien handles it by making sure people get their stories out there, and they are “true war stories”. “How to Tell a True War Story” talks about Rat and how his best friend died. Rat is only 19 years old, so he’s young, and he has to go through this tragic incident.
This chapter “The Ghost Soldiers”, showed us how Tim O’Brien and the other soldiers were dealing with the war both physically and psychologically. It also shows us how the Tim O'Brien behaved and felt when he was shot, wounded and had a bacteria infection on his butt and how the war changed the way he thought, and viewed the other soldiers around him. This chapter also contain a lot of psychological lens. From the way Tim O’Brien felt when he was shot and separated from his unit to a new unit to when he wanted revenge on Bobby Jorgenson for almost “killing” him.