War In The Things They Carried, By Tim O Brien

767 Words4 Pages

The novel The Things They Carried, by Tim O’Brien, illustrates the effect that war has on soldiers, and how their age and immaturity contribute to their experiences. Although their age does not excuse their actions, it is important to understand the impact that being put into war at such a young age has on them. Though the age of the soldiers does not excuse their actions, being put into a high-risk situation while their brains were still developing made for immature decisions that later lead to major consequences. The first chapter sets the scene for the rest of the book because it introduces the idea of death, more specifically, the death of Ted Lavender. This event makes the reader and the characters confront and try to wrap their minds …show more content…

The quote “He was alone” (O’Brien 143) emphasizes the isolation and loneliness that Norman Bowker felt after reminiscing about Kiowa’s death. The sense of loneliness that Norman Bowker feels is even more upsetting when taking his age into account. The reason his age plays such a big role is because he is still very young he should be trying to move on and start a new life after the war but because it has left him with so much trauma he is not able to, this time in his life is supposed to be one that is about developing one’s sense of self and relationships with others, but he is not able to move on due to the guilt that he feels towards Kiowa’s death. This guilt leads him to take his own life because he does not know how to cope with the loss of his friend and fellow soldier. Some may argue that the age of the soldiers played no role in affecting their mental health and how they handled the war because everyone experiences the same thing. However, their age did play a role in their coping mechanisms, as their minds were not yet fully developed. It resorted to unhealthy behaviors to try to feel some sort of relief and normalcy. You can see this when Curt Lemon and Rat Kiely are playing catch with smoke grenades. “Right away, Lemon and Rat Kiley started goofing off. They didn’t understand about the spookiness. They were kids; they just didn’t know.” (O’Brien 175) . This attempt to have fun and mess around like the carefree teenagers they are leads to Lemon’s death. The lack of maturity goes to show that the age of the soldiers plays a role in their ability to not only cope with the war and all its devastation but also them being able to partake in the

Open Document