Readers, especially those reading historical fiction, always crave to find believable stories and realistic characters. Tim O’Brien gives them this in “The Things They Carried.” Like war, people and their stories are often complex. This novel is a collection stories that include these complex characters and their in depth stories, both of which are essential when telling stories of the Vietnam War. Using techniques common to postmodern writers, literary techniques, and a collection of emotional truths, O’Brien helps readers understand a wide perspective from the war, which ultimately makes the fictional stories he tells more believable.
In The Things They Carried, O’Brien reveals his view on war through telling his readers how the Vietnam War had no point, was emotionally devastating, and displaying that there is no purpose in war unless the soldiers know what they are fighting for. O’Brien shows the pointlessness of war by
Throughout the narrative, O’Brien recounts the demise of his fellow soldiers, amassing uncontrollable guilt to have survived, “This constant reference to his fellow soldier’s demise is the guilt and confusion he feels.” (Weatherspoon). The psychological impact the soldiers face in The Things They Carried is carefully crafted using apathy, fear and guilt to tell the despondent
Literary analysis America’s war heroes all have the same stories to tell but different tales. Prescribed with the same coloring page to fill in, and use their methods and colors to bring the image to life. This is the writing style and tactic used by Tim O’Brien in his novel, “The Things They Carried”. Steven Kaplan’s short story criticism, The Undying Certainty of the Narrator in Tim O’Brien’s The Things They Carried, provides the audience with an understanding of O’Brien’s techniques used to share “true war” stories of the Vietnam War. Kaplan explains the multitude of stories shared in each of the individual characters, narration and concepts derived from their personal experiences while serving active combat duty during the Vietnam War,
This is described in the story when the narrator states, “And then afterward, when you go to tell about it, there is always that surreal seemingness, which makes the story seem untrue, but which in fact represents the hard and exact truth as it seemed” (3). It’s the idea of trying to find a truth, or some meaning behind this meaningless slaughter and killing that happened during the war. But with each telling it seems that the narrator might be stepping further from the truth and that this story should be questioned on its validity. As Rosemary King explains in her article, “On one hand, O 'Brien is asking how a listener can distinguish whether a story is a factual retelling of events; on the other he outlines "how to tell" a war story” (182). King is describing how O’Brien is saying it’s impossible to tell what is and isn’t factual in a war story, and how he is at the same time explaining how to tell a “true war story.”
In The Things They Carried, O’Brien’s story-telling method is an attempt to show that the lines between fiction and reality are often not that far. Even though the names or details may not be fully accurate, this does not change the fact that they are a reality for many. Additionally, he challenges the importance that we place on war and links it to a storytelling aspect because he’s pointing out that not every story has a moral to it. With tragic events, we typically want some sort of meaning behind them, some sort of assurance that the incident was not for nothing. However, this is not always true, as a character “Yeah, well…I don’t see no moral”…
O’Brien tells the readers about him reflecting back twenty years ago, he wonders if running away from the war were just events that happened in another dimension, he pictures himself writing a letter to his parents: “I’m finishing up a letter to my Parents that tells what I'm about to do and why I'm doing it and how sorry I am that I’d never found the courage to talk to them about it”(O’Brien 80). Even twenty years after his running from the war, O’Brien still feels sorry for not finding the courage to tell his parents about his decision of escaping to Canada to start a new life. O’Brien presented his outlook that even if someone was not directly involved in the war, this event had impacted them indirectly, for instance, how a person’s reaction to the war can create regret for important friends and
Imagine being drafted to move thousands of miles away from the life you love to fight a war you hated. This is the unfortunate reality for Tim O’Brien In The Things They Carried. O’Brien explains his experiences of war in Vietnam, what it took to get him there, and his relationships with the other men in his platoon. He portrays guilt and pride through storytelling and intertwines the two by showing how the men often feel guilty for the actions they pursue or decisions they make based on their pride.
O’Briens intended audience is people who have an interest in war, and uses mortality and death, along with morality to help the audience get a deeper understanding of what could possibly occur at war. First, O’Brien discusses how mortality and death greatly affected many of the men around him. In the chapter ” In the Field” Kiowa is gone and there is nothing they could do to save him. The
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.
Tim O’Brien never lies. While we realise at the end of the book that Kiowa, Mitchell Sanders and Rat Kiley are all fictional characters, O’Brien is actually trying to tell us that there is a lot more truth hidden in these imagined characters than we think. This suggests that the experiences he went through were so traumatic, the only way to describe it was through the projection of fictional characters. O’Brien explores the relationship between war experiences and storytelling by blurring the lines between truth and fiction. While storytelling can change and shape a reader’s opinions and perspective, it might also be the closest in helping O’Brien cope with the complexity of war experiences, where the concepts like moral and immorality are being distorted.
In the short story, “On the Rainy River” by Tim O’Brien, the author develops the idea that when an individual experiences a feeling of shame and humiliation, they often tend to neglect their desires and convictions to impress society. Tim, the narrator, starts off by describing his feeling of embarrassment, “I’ve had to live with it, feeling the shame”, before even elaborating on the cause of the feeling. Near the end of the story, he admits he does not run off and escape to Canada because it had nothing to do with his, “mortality...Embarrassment, that’s all it was”. The narrator experiences this feeling of intense shame and then he decides that he will be “a coward” and go to war. His personal desire is that he wishes to live a normal life and could never imagine himself charging at an enemy position nor ever taking aim at another human being. However, due to societal
This is evident when Mr. O’Brien says, “I would go to the war – I would kill and maybe die – because I was embarrassed not to,” (pg. 57.) In the end the author realized what he must do and went back home, so he could fight in the Vietnam