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

797 Words4 Pages

“I survived, but it’s not a happy ending” (O’Brien 58). A veteran’s pain does not end when they are relieved of duty and sent home. Many veterans are unsure how to deal with the horrors they experience during and after the war, and negative coping mechanisms can arise from those struggles. The novel, The Things They Carried by Tim O’Brien, is an accurate representation of real life because the characters use negative coping mechanisms to overcome hardships during and after the Vietnam War. An increased risk of violence is a symptom of PTSD, and because of this, veterans may try to divert their pain into violence against something else. An example from The Things They Carried is when Rat Kiley’s best friend, Curt Lemon was killed. Curt and …show more content…

He was instinalty killed, because his body was blown into a nearby tree. Later that day, the Alpha Company came upon a baby buffalo, wandering alone. Not knowing how to deal with the sudden, gruesome death of his best friend, Rat took his anger out of the buffalo. Rat began to shoot bits of the baby buffalo. He shot off it’s ear, mouth, nose, tail, and parts of it’s ribs and belly. During Rat’s outburst, the men silently watched. “The whole platoon stood there watching, feeling all kinds of things, but there wasn't a great deal of pity for the baby water buffalo” (O’Brien 75). The platoon understood that violence was an “appropriate” reaction to death of Rat’s best friend. Due to his high levels of anger and sadness, violence was an easy solution. The only purpose of doing this was to take out his anger on the world for taking away his best friend. Rat felt as if having something else feel more pain than he was feeling would make his pain go away. Another way violence can be increased is the use of drugs and alcohol to suppress the …show more content…

Two years after he returned home from the war, he took his own life. The severe feeling of loneliness led Norman to feel as if there was nothing left for him. Soon after Norman returned from war, he drove around town in an endless loop. Wasting away his days, he noticed how the people of the town had changed while he was gone. “Most of Norman Bowker's friends were living in Des Moines or Sioux City, or going to school somewhere, or holding down jobs. The high school girls were mostly gone or married. Sally Kramer, whose pictures he had once carried in his wallet, was one who had married” (O’Brien 133) This shows how while at war, everyone moved on with their lives, except Norman. When he comes home and sees how he wasn’t remembered, he feels as if he is isolated and has no way of getting back to the way things used to be. According to the Centers for Disease Control, as cited by Christopher Keating, “Estimates of suicides among Vietnam veterans range from 9,000 to 100,000” (Keating). This statistic is not only alarming due to the large amount of suicides, but because the great range means it’s extremely hard to determine the cause of the veteran’s deaths. As veterans return home, it is often hard for them to find a new job and reclaim there spot in the community, due to the constant fear and reminders of war.. The fact that often times veterans feel as if the only way to eliminate their pain is to

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