Paradox In The Things They Carried

992 Words4 Pages

In the Novel The Things They Carried, the author, Tim Obrien recalls multiple stories during one of the most devastating wars in United States history. Through storytelling, Obrien casts light upon the horrifying reality of the Vietnam war and the struggles that Obrien’s men encounter, as well as all the other soldiers. Obrien uses the novel to represent the paradox that war is both horrible and beautiful. Obrien displays this through Ted Lavenders death, Curt lemons death, and the killing of the baby water buffalo.
Obrien portrays the paradox that war is both horrible and beautiful through the death of Ted Lavender. Lee Strunk drew number seventeen which required Strunk to clear out the enemy tunnel, disliked due to the dangerous nature of …show more content…

While marching west into the mountains, Obrien and the rest of the men took a break along a trail junction. Almost immediately Rat Kiley and Kurt Lemon started goofing off. Despite the seriousness of the situation the two continued to goof off and went off into the shade of giant trees. The men played a game which involved pulling the pin off a smoke grenade and passing it back and forth. Obrien then recalls Kurt Lemon stepping from the shade until the sunlight stating “His face was suddenly brown and shining. A handsome kid really. Sharp grey eyes, lean, and narrow waisted, and when he died it was almost beautiful, the way the sunlight came around him and lifted him up and sucked him high into a tree full of moss and vines and white blossoms” (67). Obrien chooses to focus on the beauty involved with the death instead of the graphic details and the horrible reality of death. Using the phrase “his face was suddenly brown and shining” and focusing on how handsome shows that even in traumatic events Obrien turns the situation into something beautiful. However, the death of Kurt Lemon shows the horrific nature of war as a young man with his whole life ahead, gets killed over a silly game with a smoke …show more content…

High in the mountains O’Brien and his men come across a baby water buffalo. Rat Kiley offers some of his C rations to the buffalo, but the buffalo doesn’t eat them. Rat Kiley Shrugged and shoots the buffalo multiple times. Despite the multiple gunshot wounds the water buffalo barely stays alive. The men then dump the buffalo in the local well. Rat Kiley weeps after these events unfold. After witnessing this O’Brien describes war as “hell, but that’s not the half of it, because war is also mystery and terror and adventure and courage and discovery and holiness and pity and despair and longing and love. War is nasty; war is fun. War is thrilling; war is drudgery. War makes you a man; war makes you dead.” Obrien perfectly describes the duality of war saying, “war is nasty; war is fun” and “war makes you a man; war makes you dead” (76). War has many positives for some men, and it gives them a chance to honor their country. War is also horrible and leads to the death of countless young men with bright futures ahead. O’Brien uses the story of the water buffalo to describe all the emotions described in the description of war. The shooting of the water buffalo shows how desensitized soldiers become due to the mindless killing of Vietnam. The story also shows humanity that Rat Kiley still holds onto as he cries walking away. The story of the water

Open Document