Things They Carried Guilt

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Imagine being drafted to move thousands of miles away from the life you love to fight a war you hated. This is the unfortunate reality for Tim O’Brien In The Things They Carried. O’Brien explains his experiences of war in Vietnam, what it took to get him there, and his relationships with the other men in his platoon. He portrays guilt and pride through storytelling and intertwines the two by showing how the men often feel guilty for the actions they pursue or decisions they make based on their pride.
In the chapter “On the Rainy River”, pride drives O’Brien to make a decision that will change his life forever. He is deciding between fleeing to Canada or accepting the fact that he was drafted for Vietnam and go to war. He decided to go to the border of the United States and Canada, staying with a man named Elroy. Elroy becomes a silent stigma in Tim’s life, and his cabin helps Tim realize he has to go to war because there is too much pride in his heart not to. He explains, “I would go to war--I would kill and maybe die--because I was too embarrassed not to” (O’Brien 57). This quote means he would
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He tells stories about when he fled to the border of Canada due to his pride, feels guilty for letting his family and friends down, and then comes back. This trend of guilt felt due to decisions that were made based on pride is also shown when Jimmy Cross has too much pride to tell his higher ups that the place in the field isn’t safe for the troop to settle down, so he feels guilty when Kiowa is lost in the muck. The situations that O’Brien and his comrades are put in because of their pride can lead them to do things out of character and lead to a deep sense of guilt later. These themes in The Things They Carried give the readers a better idea of how soldiers made tough choices in Vietnam and how it affected them
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