The Things They Carried Morally Ambiguous Characters

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The Things They Carried is a novel written by Tim O'Brien which follows the daily thoughts, actions, and moments of a company serving in the Vietnam War. The meaning of this work was to depict the gruesome images and effects of war as well as the toll it can take on people. This is executed by utilizing morally ambiguous characters, which are characters whose behavior discourages readers from identifying them as purely evi or purely good. Many characters in the book are morally ambiguous, but one, an unnamed vietcong soldier who was killed in the novel stands out the most. This vietcong soldier is described as poorly structured, with a small body, slender fingers, frail wrists, and a delicate face. The chapter “The Man I Killed” opens up describing his features as well as his wounds. As stated in the chapter “Ambush”, Tim O’Brien spotted the Vietcong soldier and threw a grenade towards his direction. The soldier saw the grenade, but it was too late. At first thought, the reader would see this person as the enemy and not think much of it, but then, Tim O’Brien becomes lost in his thoughts, and begins to see things from the soldier’s perspective.…show more content…
O’Brien begins thinking about how the soldier’s life must have been, simply by going off of his description. O’Brien says that this soldier loved math but was bullied for being smart and having a miniscule body. O’Brien also says that this soldier was told many stories about brave warriors who served their country just like us, but the soldier was scared, and he prayed that he wouldn’t become old enough to fight. This moment of O’Brien seeing life from the enemy’s shoes gives the reader sympathy for the vietcong soldier. O’Brien explaining this now gives a new way to connect to our “enemy” and truly questions if anyone in war is purely evil or purely
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