The Vietnam War In The Things They Carried By Tim O Brien

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The Vietnam War was a war of divisiveness, antagonism, and death. In the novel “The Things They Carried“, writer Tim O’Brien reflects on those aspects of war and takes the reader on a multifaceted journey. Throughout the novel, the author emphasizes the desensitization necessitated by the brutality of battle as well as the shame and guilt that the soldiers carried with them. O’Brien juxtaposes the burden of a soldier’s obligation alongside recurrent glimpses of youth and innocence. The weight of war upon humanity is a theme O’Brien develops through powerful symbolism of contradictory characters who resemble the loss of innocence and parallels with the soldiers fighting in Vietnam. At the beginning of the novel, names of soldiers and the …show more content…

The actions, duty, and personal involvement of war brought him shame. He was forced to kill when he never wanted to kill, he didn’t even want to be there. “I did not hate the young man; I did not see him as the enemy; I did not ponder issues of mortality or politics or military duty…None of it mattered. The war seemed far too complicated. All I could do was gape at the fact of the young man's body”(128). He couldn’t even contemplate what he had done and he didn’t want to. He had no feelings or hatred for this man, he was mentally numb because this is never what he had imagined for himself. As O’Brien was trying to mourn the loss of this unknown man, the insensitivity of his fellow peers overwhelmed him. “‘Oh man you fuckin’ trashed that fucker’ Azar said. ‘You scrambled his sorry self, look at that, you did, you laid him out like shredded fuckin’ wheat…I’m just sayin’ the truth. Like oatmeal’”(119). The text reiterates the message that with murder and killing came pride with some soldiers. This encouraged soldiers to adopt the mindset behind it was to do the most damage and cause the most hurt, remorse, and sorrow. Soldiers are required to end someone's life without even knowing who they were. The author O’Brien purposefully uses metafiction to create a perplexing and complex blending of what is fiction and what is reality. ADD Readers empathize for this character O’Brien, they feel for the man that he killed, they resent Azar for saying those inconsiderate remarks, but also get caught off guard believing this story. The reader is never able to know what parts are true and what parts author Tim O’Brien is creating to get his point across which is both genius and complicated. Tim O’Brien created these desensitized characters

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