Literary Elements In The Things They Carried

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Every person has values that they hold close to their heart. One of the necessary steps for a group to achieve something larger than each individual is closely following a agreed upon values. For the United States Army, there are seven core principles: loyalty, duty, respect, selfless service, honor, integrity, and personal courage (Army). However, in every team there are almost always members who stray from this moral code. In The Things They Carried, Tim O’Brien uses literary elements to demonstrate that soldiers at war often do not model certain values of the American Army- personal courage, integrity, and respect. Through paradox and irony, O'Brien demonstrates the lack of courage that he, and others, possess as a soldier. After being drafted into the…show more content…
However, after grappling with a the options, he makes his ultimate decision to participate. Years later, O’Brien reflects on his decision: “I survived the war, but it wasn’t a happy ending. I was a coward... I would go to war- I would kill and maybe die- because I was embarrassed not to” (O’Brien 59). A soldier typically feels honored and proud to fight for their country and value system. O’Brien goes to war like a courageous soldier would, but he labels himself a coward rather than a hero. These feelings are not only applicable to the narrator. In The Things They Carried, O’Brien describes the metaphoric weight that fear inside all of the men consumes: “They carried the common secret of cowardice barely restrained, the instinct to run or freeze or hide, and in many respects this was the heaviest burden of all, for it could never be put down, it required perfect balance and perfect posture” (O’Brien 21). The soldiers’ sense of inner coward, which cannot be physically taken out of their
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