“It’s never about war, it’s about sunlight.” This quote is one of the many reasons Tim O’Brien gives on how to tell a true war story. In The Things They Carried four of Tim O’Brien’s own rules demonstrate why his chapter “On a Rainy River” is true. The rules that a true war story has no moral, a true war story doesn’t generalize, a true war story is not just about war, and a true war story is embarrassing prove his chapter true.
In his book, O’Brien has three separate experience with the deaths of the enemy. Two instances involved military personal but one, a civilian in Vietnam. Within in four days of fighting in Vietnam, O’Brien sees his first dead body. But death does not shock him, but the disrespect the other men show towards the dead man. They “shook the old man’s hand… one by one the other did it too.
Being a soldier was well respected in his conservative hometown, and not fighting would cause disgrace to fall upon his family. Despite his morals being against it, O’Brien decided to go war and fight, “I survived,” he explained, “but it’s not a happy ending. I was a coward. I went to the war” (O’Brien 79). Although O’Brien was against fighting in the war, he still fought because he was ashamed and afraid that he would be scorned if he did not.
‘the grenade was to make him go away-just evaporate-and I leaned back and felt my mind go empty’ (O’Brien 349). Here, O’Brien shows how he had no intent to kill. However, the outcomes of the war disturb him so much that he wishes not to recall what happened. ‘none of it mattered. The words seemed far too complicated.
O’Brien begins thinking about how the soldier’s life must have been, simply by going off of his description. O’Brien says that this soldier loved math but was bullied for being smart and having a miniscule body. O’Brien also says that this soldier was told many stories about brave warriors who served their country just like us, but the soldier was scared, and he prayed that he wouldn’t become old enough to fight. This moment of O’Brien seeing life from the enemy’s shoes gives the reader sympathy for the vietcong soldier. O’Brien explaining this now gives a new way to connect to our “enemy” and truly questions if anyone in war is purely evil or purely
Throughout the story of The Things They Carried, by Tim O’Brien, many different themes are expressed. The fear of shame is specifically shown throughout the story through the soldiers. These soldiers were constantly feeling the fear of shame and embarrassment if they were to flee from the war. They felt the fear of embarrassing not only themselves, but also their families and their communities if they were to flee from the war. No matter what is happening in the story of The Things They Carried, you will always be able to find the soldiers feeling the fear of embarrassment that the soldiers are carrying along with them through this tragic time.
When one enters a violent situation, that person is immediately reshaped in order to cope with their surroundings and experiences. Regarding the soldiers in the Vietnam War, it is no different; their personalities harden and mature, so they are capable of handling any scene that they encounter. Furthermore, a loss of innocence occurs. Going into the war, they are ignorant to the harsh realities of war, but afterwards, they come out changed: “Pranksters must become killers, dreamers must become realists — or someone dies” (McCarthy). The long-term exposure to the constant violence and paranoia causes the soldiers’ personalities to develop into harsher and grimmer versions of themselves.
In the chapter, “Ambush” and “The Man I Killed” is in the perspective of O’Brien when he describes the man he had killed. When he was telling the story he knew many intimate details about the man he killed. O’Brien does not know the man but because he killed him for the first time he felt the guilt for killing. His guilt and his creation of the story of the man created the man to produce many images of how he was before he was killed. He describes him as a young innocent man, which the thought of the man created more guilt for himself.
Despite being unable to list the actual weight of each soldier’s “emotional baggage”, the author conveys how these “intangibles had their own mass and specific gravity, they had tangible weight” (O’Brien 574-575). The reader begins to understand how a soldier living in a war zone struggles with the uncertainty of whether they’ll be alive much longer: “They carried their own lives. The pressures were enormous” (O’Brien 572). This use of symbolism leaves the reader with a much broader understanding of the psychological impact war has on a
Have you ever been walking down the hallway at school, or any public place, and you just so happen to hear a curse word, or maybe see someone fighting? It draws you in. Your attention is no longer toward you walking. This happens as well when reading a book, most people are not used to seeing violence or profanity in books. Then when you do, you become more engaged with the story.
Bowker isolated himself from society so much that instead of talking to other people about how he felt he just made up the conversations in his head. Because of this psychological isolation he committed suicide. O’Brien talks about how he feels guilty just because he is alive and he has to deal with the memory of the dead. He says “There were many bodies, real bodies with real faces, but I was young then and I was afraid to look.
O’Brien talks about the death of a young man with skinny wrists, skinny ankles, and a star-shaped hole in his eye. He gives him life by making him into a story, so that way he could be distracted by the fact that the young boy won’t be able to read it. He wrote this chapter to express his remorse, guilt, and shame for the boy that lost his life in front of O’Brien’s eyes, whether the death was by his hand or not. Although the title of this chapter, The Man I Killed, is about a man who died, it is unclear if O'Brien killed anyone in the war. Remorse can be described as a distressing emotion experienced by someone who regrets their actions which they have
The True Weight of War “The Things They Carried,” by Tim O’Brien, brings to light the psychological impact of what soldiers go through during times of war. We learn that the effects of traumatic events weigh heavier on the minds of men than all of the provisions and equipment they shouldered. Wartime truly tests the human body and and mind, to the point where some men return home completely destroyed. Some soldiers have been driven to the point of mentally altering reality in order to survive day to day. An indefinite number of men became numb to the deaths of their comrades, and yet secretly desired to die and bring a conclusion to their misery.
O’Brien feels extremely guilty for killing someone. He is not sure what to do or how to feel. O’Brien does not exactly say if he was the man who actually killed him, or if someone else did. He hints that if it was not him that killed the poor man. Death has a way of changing a
In Earnest Hemingway’s book For Whom the Bell Tolls, the reader follows the war operation of Republican soldiers blowing up a Fascist-controlled bridge. Through this ploy, the guerilla and republican soldiers opposing views cause clashes. Differing world- views on tactics of war in many cases, restricts soldier’s participation on operations of war. In situations such as this, sense of duty that is held by soldier becomes evident due to them going against their morals.