Storytelling And Guilt In The Things They Carried By Tim O Brien

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“No event in American history is more misunderstood than the Vietnam War. It was misreported then, and it is misremembered now” ( Richard M. Nixon). The Things They Carried is a nonlinear novel written by Tim O’Brien about the Vietnam war. The novel is nonlinear because he wrote it 20 years after the war ended. This allows him to go back to specific memories without having to be in chronological order. His purpose in writing this novel was to help readers understand what was going on in the Vietnam war. Tim O’Brien uses themes storytelling and shame/guilt to help people who wanted to know about the Vietnam war understand how the soldiers felt. In the chapter “How to Tell a True War Story,” O’Brien uses the theme storytelling to show that a …show more content…

Through the chapter, O’Brien talks about what most people thought should be done with the draft. Some of society saw people that ran away as cowards. This thought haunted O’Brien as he thought of what might happen to his family if he chose to run away. O’Brien says, “Intellect had come up against emotion” (49). This quote shows how guilty he felt. He was going through all the options he had to try to make his decision easier for his family and himself. Thinking of all that, O’Brien says, “It was as if there were an audience to my life, that swil of faces along the river, and in my head I could hear people screaming at me” (57). Going through his head were all the people in his life that he would be leaving behind if he chose to run away. The thought of leaving everyone behind made him feel guilty because he did not want to bring shame to his family to his family and friends. Both quotes provided serve as good evidence of how and why O’Brien felt guilty/shameful if he chose to leave his life …show more content…

In this chapter, the platoon goes back to the field where Kiowa died to try to find his body. At the end, they did find his body, but throughout the chapter, multiple people felt guilty for what happened to Kiowa. O'Brien talks about how every person in that platoon felt and acted to that event. O’Brien writes more details about two specific individuals that were overwhelmed with Kiowa’s death. Lieutenant Jimmy Cross was one of the people that felt responsible for Kiowa’s death. Cross understood that “When a man died, there had to be blame… A moment of carelessness or bad judgment or plain stupidity carried consequences that lasted forever” (O’Brien 169-170). Cross agreed with this quote, therefore he blamed himself Kiowa’s death because he was the leader of the group and he chose to listen to his orders instead of following his instincts. He also chose not to listen to the native people that warned him about that field. That poor decision that he made still haunts

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