In the Vietnam war, there were many soldiers at war with each other, and most soldiers were not prepared for the fight. In the novel The Things They Carried, Tim O’Brien was in the Vietnam war when he was young. The book was not in order but he still talks about his experiences while in the war. His purpose for writing this novel was because he wanted younger audience to know what happened in the war and what the soldiers experienced. O’Brien’s intended audience was young people who were not educated about the war and he discussed the themes shame/guilt and mortality/death.
“That’s what stories are for. Stories are for joining the past to the future ... Stories are for eternity, when memory is erased, when there is nothing to remember except the story” (36). The Things They Carried is a captivating novel that gives an inside look at the life of a soldier in the Vietnam War through the personal stories of the author, Tim O’Brien . Having been in the middle of war, O’Brien has personal experiences to back up his opinion about the war. In The Things They Carried, O’Brien reveals his view on war through telling his readers how the Vietnam War had no point, was emotionally devastating, and displaying that there is no purpose in war unless the soldiers know what they are fighting for.
In November of 1955, the United States entered arguably one of the most horrific and violent wars in history. The Vietnam War is documented as having claimed about 58,000 American lives and more than 3 million Vietnamese lives. Soldiers and innocent civilians alike were brutally slain and tortured. The atrocities of such a war are near incomprehensible to those who didn’t experience it firsthand. For this reason, Tim O’Brien, Vietnam War veteran, tries to bring to light the true horrors of war in his fiction novel The Things They Carried. The novel focuses on coping with the death and horror of war. It also speaks volumes about the true nature of Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) and the never-ending struggle of dealing with it. In the
Tim O’Brien’s The Things They Carried is a collection of essays, all centered on anecdotes of American soldiers during the Vietnam War. The seemingly straightforward recollections slowly reveal dense layers of personal and metaphorical meanings upon closer inspection, with the exploration of the characters’ emotions and the underlying motif of love creating the opportunity to trace how war changes a person in the realm of his emotions. The Vietnam warfare acts as a catalyst for all of the unsettling changes in the soldiers’ minds, raising the question whether the battlefield is actively responsible for this result or merely accelerating the inevitable manifestation of these personal issues, inherent in every person.
“Four guys go down a trail. A grenade sails out. One guy jumps out and takes the blast and saves his three buddies” displays courage among that person. This individual was obviously smart and thought if he sacrificed himself then his friend would be safe, and that is what makes him a hero (O’Brien 62). But when O’Brien says “Eight months later Bower hanged himself…Bower did not have a lapse of courage that was responsible for Kiowa’s death” it illustrates the effect someone would have if they knew their friend died for them (O’Brien 112). Knowing your friend sacrificed their life for you would be a burden that followed you your whole life and unfortunately, some aren’t strong enough to live with that, and they end their
In the chapter when he describes the man he kills, he talks about the state of the dead body by saying, “His jaw was in his throat, his upper lip and teeth were gone, his one eye was shut, his other eye was a star-shaped hole…the skin at his left cheek was peeled back in three ragged strips, his right cheek was smooth and hairless, there was a butterfly on his chin, his neck was open to the spinal cord and the blood there was thick and shiny and it was this wound that had killed him” (O’Brien Chapter 11). This brutal and horrifying imagery displays an irrefutable element of truth to O’Brien’s writing. Not only does this imagery highlight the truth to his writing, but it also sheds light on the brutal truth about the war in Vietnam. By using imagery as such a strong rhetorical device in his writing, he gives the average person a taste of just how barbaric and cruel Vietnam felt for the people who experience the war first hand on either side of the fighting.
Readers, especially those reading historical fiction, always crave to find believable stories and realistic characters. Tim O’Brien gives them this in “The Things They Carried.” Like war, people and their stories are often complex. This novel is a collection stories that include these complex characters and their in depth stories, both of which are essential when telling stories of the Vietnam War. Using techniques common to postmodern writers, literary techniques, and a collection of emotional truths, O’Brien helps readers understand a wide perspective from the war, which ultimately makes the fictional stories he tells more believable.
They saw each other as friends but also as team mates. Norman Bowker was an emotional man who is self- loathing and held so much guilt after the death of Kiowa. Bowker never really knew what to do with his life after the war and turned to O’Brian to tell his story for him. O’Brian felt a bit of pity for the man when he killed himself in a YMCA locker room one afternoon.(pg 149) When he recieved the letter of all the emotions running through Bowkers mind, O’Brian said, “Norman Bowker’s letter hit me hard. For years ive felt a certain smugness about how easy i had made the shift from war to peace.” (pg 151) O’Brian never really found a connection with Norman until after the letter was written. Norman Bowker was carrying so much weight of being in the war that eventally it did the worst thing possible to him, it killed him. No soldier wants to hear about a member of their troop die because they were fighting battles inside their own mind of
In this chapter, O’Brien used repetition, a motif, and symbolism to stress the futility of the Vietnam war. First off, the word “Rain” is repeated numerous times throughout the chapter. This repetitious motif symbolizes war, as the war is all around, like how the word is all around the chapter. Furthermore, O’Brien used “Rain” when referring to everlasting events in the story, alongside setting a sad tone (war is never a happy event). For instance, during the hard trek through the waterlogged Song Tra Bong, the rain pounded on the men as they sought out Kiowa. This situation symbolized the unnecessary need for “Rain,” especially while trying to do something already difficult. As Lt. Cross put it, “The rain was war and you had to fight it”
The story of the shit field keeps on being told, O'Brien does not stop talking about it in the book. O'Brien says that if a story keeps on coming back, it might show that it is a true war story, "You can tell a true war story by the way it never seems to end," (72). PTSD, the effects of the story do not lessen. So it's always replaying in the mind. Like the person would never forget that one story, because he knows that it was his fault and it haunts him. O'Brien keeps on talking about this field for four chapters, then he stops after going to the field with his daughter, "Twenty years. A lot like yesterday, a lot like never. In a way, maybe, I'd gone under with Kiowa, and now after two decades I'd mostly worked my way out," (178). In the fourth
Hidden somewhere within the blurred lines of fiction and reality, lies a great war story trapped in the mind of a veteran. On a day to day basis, most are not willing to murder someone, but in the Vietnam War, America’s youth population was forced to after being pulled in by the draft. Author Tim O’Brien expertly blends the lines between fiction, reality, and their effects on psychological viewpoints in the series of short stories embedded within his novel, The Things They Carried. He forces the reader to rethink the purpose of storytelling and breaks down not only what it means to be human, but how mortality and experience influence the way we see our world. In general, he attempts to question why we choose to tell the stories in the way we
In Tim O' Brien's novel, "The Things They Carried", the guilt about the man he killed has the author so distressed and perturbed, that he seems to give his role as the protagonist away to the dead body. Since O'Brien doesn’t use the first person perspective to express his culpability and confusion, he tries to explain to readers with his mind by creating a life for his victim over and over again.
Tim O’Brien never lies. While we realise at the end of the book that Kiowa, Mitchell Sanders and Rat Kiley are all fictional characters, O’Brien is actually trying to tell us that there is a lot more truth hidden in these imagined characters than we think. This suggests that the experiences he went through were so traumatic, the only way to describe it was through the projection of fictional characters. O’Brien explores the relationship between war experiences and storytelling by blurring the lines between truth and fiction. While storytelling can change and shape a reader’s opinions and perspective, it might also be the closest in helping O’Brien cope with the complexity of war experiences, where the concepts like moral and immorality are being distorted. “How to Tell a True War Story” and “Ambush” are stories that both explore on topics: truth, the real definition of a true war story, and the role of truth.
The Vietnam War leaves a legacy of moral confusion with each and every soldier who serves. Soldiers are fighting for a cause they do not necessarily believe in, killing people who do not necessarily deserve it, and watching their brothers die beside them. Tim O’Briens’ book, The Things They Carried, illustrates the soldiers struggle to define morality throughout the confusion of the war.
The things they carried is a novel by Tim O’Brien. About the Vietnam war. About the lives of people going there. It’s a collection of war stories. Some of them true, some of the untrue and that’s the main topic that’ll be discussed in this paper. What is a true war story? How can it be told? this is a quite complicated question with a quite complex response(s). a true war story is something beyond generalizing, that could be true and untrue at a time. There is not only one type of truth, but happening and seeming truths, and not the man could know the real truth in a war story.