Truth And Happiness In The Things They Carried By Tim O Brien

1311 Words6 Pages

The concepts of truth and happiness have been important literary themes throughout history. In Tim O’Brien’s The Things They Carried, O’Brien’s notion of truth creates the structure of the novel. O’Brien believes “truth” boils down perception, and how what we believe happened affects our emotions. Thus real truth is elusive for we can change how we feel and perceive what happens to us. Jon Gertner, author of The Futile Pursuit of Happiness, also believes truth to be elusive. Although their arguments share a common thread, the similarity ends there. Gertner argues that humans can not actually predict their feelings. What we think will make us happy or sad, in reality, does not impact our overall feelings in the long run. Each author has a different …show more content…

While O’Brien believes finding truth and happiness is dependent on perception. Gertner believes perception itself if flawed. Because humans can’t know or guess at what makes them happy, happiness in unachievable. Gertner’s evidence to support his evidence comes from mainly scientific work, while O’Brien’s comes from real life experiences in Vietnam. O’Brien’s writing in The Things They Carried argues against, and ultimate alters Gertner’s points. When Gertner argues that humans fail in predicting their emotions, making happy or sad feelings unimportant. O’Brien counters this with the extreme sadness felt over the death of a platoon mate. This changes Gertner’s point. Gertner again argues that humans are unable to control their emotions. The soldiers in Vietnam, however, used chopping mechanisms to change their thoughts from the horrors of war to peaceful memories. O’Brien’s evidence even changes Gertner’s belief that the pursuit of happiness is futile. O’Brien knows that had the platoon men in Vietnam, not strove for happiness, they would have perished as a result of the war. When viewing both works, and arguments side by side, how The Things They Carried alters The Futile Pursuit of Happiness is quite clear. How can happiness be futile? For it it is, then life is as

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