The Things They Carried Rhetorical Analysis

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Highlighting the effects of war on the personalities and actions of the characters, “The Things They Carried” by Tim O’Brien dwells on the characters and contrasts their physical baggage with their emotional burdens in order to illustrate that the psychological impact of traumatic events weighs heavier on the minds of the soldiers than all of the provisions and supplies they shouldered. O’Brien does this by utilizing several literary devices, such as narration, point of view, characterization, symbolism, irony, and metaphor.
Written from the third person point of view, the unnamed narrator discusses the inner thoughts and outer actions of Jimmy Cross, a lieutenant of an army unit in active combat in the Vietnam War. Along with their necessities …show more content…

Employing softer language conveyed that the soldiers are trying to detach themselves from the horrors of war. For instance, words like “grease…offed, lit up,” and “zapped while zipping” were used instead of “killed” (604). By deliberately repeating the phrase “they carried” and “the things they carried” at the start of several sentences, it is evident that O’Brien uses anaphora as a rhetorical device in his writing in order to assert the fact that war can be burdensome and grueling. These phrases are stressed repetitively throughout the story to denote the weight of war also becoming heavier for the soldiers the longer it continues. Another rhetorical and stylistic device used to emphasize the tone is the asyndeton. This is demonstrated when the narrator lists the necessities every solider carries as the following: “can openers, pocket knives, heat tabs, wristwatches, dog tags mosquito repellent, chewing gum, candy, cigarettes, salt tablets, packets of Kool-Aid, lighters, matches, sewing kits, Military Payment Certificates, C rations, and two or three canteens of water” (596). As you can see, eliminating the conjunctions between phrases in a sentence causes the reader to feel in the moment and connected to the character’s situation without being distracted by the details of the content. This is evident because, in this long list, the commas are used to emphasize the number of items the soldiers carry. Paralleling the effect both rhetorical devices illicit, O’Brien also incorporates several other repetitive lists that are long and short. While the long list wears down the reader to make them feel the burden of all that they are carrying and illicit an overwhelming mood, the shorter lists are about the war and create a sense of adrenaline due to the fact that death was ready to come to any one of them at

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