The Things They Carried By Tim O Brien

2437 Words10 Pages

Jordan C. John
Instructor Kirsten Blodgett
English 108
28 March 2022
Tim O’Brien’s The Things They Carried
To reject the ideals of modernist literature and discuss the philosophical questions of war, Tim O’Brien wrote The Things They Carried. Within this novel, the ideals of postmodernist literature permeate each chapter as he utilizes the literary conventions to their fullest extent. Further, O’Brien explores the philosophy behind what makes a true war story vs. a moral war story, as well as what justifies the cruelty that was exhibited by soldiers in the Vietnam War, of which he served. Therefore, an analysis of the book, The Things They Carried by Tim O’Brien, demonstrates that it is not only a postmodern novel but an invitation to discuss …show more content…

We believe that true, patriotic heroes go to war without cowardice or complaint. Yet, as O’Brien demonstrates in his novel, war is incomprehensible and lacks the morality we expect it to have. The Vietnam War was fought for reasons unknown to the soldiers involved as seen in the lines “The very facts were shrouded in uncertainty: Was it a civil war? A war of national liberation or simple aggression? Who started it, and when, and why?” (O’Brien 38). O’Brien further elaborates on the real motivators behind many soldiers’ enlistment, which do not involve our expectations of honour or patriotism: “They carried the soldier’s greatest fear, which was the fear of blushing. Men killed, and died, because they were embarrassed not to. It was what had brought them to war in the first place, nothing positive, no dreams of glory or honor, just to avoid the blush of dishonor. They died so as not to die of embarrassment.” (O’Brien 20). O’Brien even discusses his own acceptance as a flawed soldier, “That old image of myself as a hero, as a man of conscience and courage, all that was just a threadbare pipe dream.” (55). As well, a true war story examines the real consequences of sending men into combat, ““Speaking of Courage” was written in 1975 at the suggestion of Norman Bowker, who three years later hanged himself in the locker room of a YMCA in his hometown in central Iowa.” (O’Brien 149). In summation, to tell a true …show more content…

O’Brien accomplishes this through his usage of literary conventions such as fragmentation, paradox, and unrealistic plots. As well, he explores the definition of a true war story versus a moral war story and contemplates on the justifiable reasons for soldiers committing atrocities. Therefore, Tim O’Brien’s The Things They Carried is a prime example of a postmodernist novel and an exploration of morality.Works

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