O 'Brien's The Things They Carried'

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Reviews of the The Things They Carried tend to praise O’Brien for the detail and truth of his recordings of Vietnam. Writing for the Washington Times, John Greenya truly reviews that O 'Brien does not misconstrue the emotions and events of Vietnam in The Things They Carried
First, Greenya explains that O’Brien is truthful to admit that he tried to escape from fighting in the war. This brings The Things They Carried closer to nonfiction because O’Brien does not exaggerate the details of Vietnam to make himself seem like the hero. If pure fiction, O’Brien would have been ready to fight, eagerly receiving his draft letter. Instead, he admits that he fruitlessly tried to run away to Canada, having a revelation that he did not want to shame his
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O’Brien does not exaggerate the blood or downplay the unsanitary conditions of war. Although he admits to “setting up in a shit field,” he does not not exaggerate the amount of fighting he witnessed in Vietnam (161). Rather than depicting a clean but gory war, O’Brien shares the disgusting, mind-destroying parts of his service. He emphasizes that serving in Vietnam does not entail fighting battle-after-battle. In fact, he mentions that in one year, he only saw one intruder. Instead of disguising his service as an action movie, he discusses his battle against the elements, oneself, and politics. Although some specifics have been changed, the do not change the grand scheme of the novel. For example, in the two chapters “The Man I Killed” and “Ambush,” O’Brien admits that he condensed various ambushes into one event. Although the book does not hash out every single detail of O’Brien’s service, O’Brien still writes about the “simplicity of the true,” confronting the reality of every war:
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