Surrealism In The Things They Carried

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Surrealism Surrealism is the use of non rational imagery to give insight to the book’s characters’ subconscious thoughts. The Things They Carried specifically references surrealism in “How to Tell a True War Story” and how it is such a big factor in war stories. It is what gives them such unrealistic sounding images and scenes but as Tim O’Brien puts it, “represents the hard and exact truth as it seemed”(68). Surrealism is apparent in many if not all chapters of the story. In the chapter “On the Rainy River,” Tim O’Brien explains how he cracked and nearly went to cross the Canadian border. His description of how he felt when the reality hit him contains very surreal imagery. The situation itself seems surreal even to O’Brien himself. When…show more content…
There is nothing in his chest actually cracking, leaking, or popping. He ties this image with the image of something precious spilling out of him. This is used as a metaphor to explain how he feels he is losing his precious opportunities in life. He is still warm inside but is losing it as if it’s his youth deteriorating. Everything he has worked for has now has to wait while he risks his life on the battlefield. The surrealness of the road is used to reflect his thoughts on running away. It’s possible to cross the border but that decision in his mind is impossible for him to make. He isn’t going to hit a physical road block, but instead, he loses and does not get to follow his desired path no matter which path he takes. Canada is a new life, and Vietnam is a waste of life. It also gives off a more physical concern of his subconscious. The use of a ‘dead’ end shows that the thought of dying is on his subconscious. It also ties in with the warmth spilling out as he becomes cold just a dead body would. In summary, the images O’Brien uses in this passage are very much surreal and no doubtedly prove that he uses surrealism in his work. He does so in a meaningful manner to give insight to his character’s subconscious thoughts just as the definition
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