Tim O Brien's The Things They Carried: An Analysis

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Eventually, everyone had to deal with the weight placed on his shoulders. Some characters managed this weight better than others, such as Tim O’Brien writing war stories. Many characters who did make it out struggled to find their place back in society once they returned home. Some even ended up taking their own lives from the overwhelming load they bore. The pressure they received was insurmountable. The men in the Vietnam War had to deal with the painful memories and stress for the rest of their lives, however long those ended up being. The war’s strains weighed down the soldiers throughout their lives. One would think that the end of the war would have been a relief for the soldiers, but this was not always the case. When the soldiers returned…show more content…
One of the main reasons O’Brien, a Vietnam veteran, wrote this novel, was “to communicate his traumas incommunicability (Hope College/WTS Journal List)” to the outside world in a way that verbalizing never could. The war left many soldiers so damaged that they failed at communicating feelings of guilt and trauma to others. The book shows this several times and it is one of the largest ways in which the Vietnam War mentally affected those closest to it. In the section titled, “Speaking of Courage”, Norman Bowker, a Vietnam veteran who fought with O’Brien, drives around a lake thinking of the war. He is unable to explain his war experiences to people who will listen. This inability symbolizes the pain that many Vietnam veterans experienced when they returned. Veterans yearned to tell their stories to others, which ate them up psychologically. The lake Bowker drives around represents the sewage field that Kiowa died in from Vietnam and how incapable he is to communicate these feelings of guilt and trauma with others. Similar to how Kiowa, American decency, drowned in the sewage field, Bowker feels that the war destroyed his personal decency. A major symptom of Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) is the inability to relay the emotions and experiences of such traumatic events. Norman Bowker and his story as a whole symbolizes the plague of PTSD in…show more content…
Jimmy was “purely invented, like Martha, and like Kiowa or Mitchell Sanders and all the others (The Textual “Truth” behind Tim O’Brien’s The Things They Carried).” These characters, and the stories that they took part in symbolize the negative feelings and experiences that O’Brien came across in Vietnam. The death of his fellow soldiers and loneliness ate him up until he had to write to get them off his
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