The Things they Carried

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They brought a number of narrations written by Tim O’Brien that represent the experiences of individuals during the Vietnam War. Since it draws on a wide range of literary styles, the book is both challenging and original. The author introduces the book to the readers as both a writer’s autobiography and a war memoir, and he further complicates the reading experience by creating a fictional protagonist with his name. The authors illuminate the characters of soldiers who fought and derive meaning about the war through reflection on their associations through a collection of intertwined semi-autobiographical stories. However, O’ Brien used several devices to persuade his reader about the condition of humanity as illustrated by the Vietnam War. Further, the use of various literary devices in the book helps the readers to connect and feel as they are part of the narration.

Initially, O’ Brien used imagery to describe events, places, and people with the goal of illustrating humanity during the Vietnamese battle. For instance, the author describes the person he killed “his sparkling black curls was swept inward into the cowlick at the back of the head, his right cheek was hairless and smooth and his collar was unfasten to spinal cord” (O’Brien 121). The image created by the narrator describes the corpse which in return reminds the reader of the enemy’s humankind while offering a detailed account of the horrors of the fight. Even if the writer is unclear if he actually threw the ammo and killed the soldier outside My Khe, the memory of the dead body is recurring and strong symbolizing the sympathy’s guilt over the horrible war actions.

Within The Man I Killed narration, O’Brien distances himself from the recalls by taking in the third individual and constructs dreams as to what a person should look like before being killed. Moreover, the narrator marvels at the ruins of his body speaking of the star-designed perforation that is on the eye as well as peeled-back cheek. The narration serves to keep O’Brien away from the reality of the killing since there is no place in the comprehensive where there is author’s feeling regarding the situation. However, the writer’s guilt is evident through the imaginations of the dead man’s life which include many aspects that are same to his own living.

Additionally, the O’ Brien use of different literally devices is seen in the point of view to describe what he is able to hear, feel and see from his understanding. Various stories are narrated from the first individual perspectives although shifts to the third person in some parts. With the use of the first person understanding, the writer tells the narration from the semi-autobiographical view hence including his experiences in the war. The major action of the novel is the author recalling the previous and reworking the details of the memories of the service in Vietnam War. As the author, O’Brien comments and analyzes upon how narrations are told and the reason behind the narration. For instance, he explains the story of Curt’s death and continues to analyze why it holds the element of reality. The frequent memory of the book is when the author remembers the collection of repeated pictures of the dead Kiowa who has his fellow soldier and friend (O’Brien 153). The scene of this death on the battlefield seems to be the basis of the novel in describing the humanity during the fight or conflict in Vietnam. It is through the battle that he lost his close comrade hence being able to create a condemnation against the lavishness of the war.

The things that characters in the story carry are both figurative and literal since they have the physical and emotional loads made of terror, grief, longing, and love. Every person’s physical burden underscores the emotional problems. For instance, Henry Dobbin carries his partner’s pantyhose which have the longing for comfort and love. Further, Jimmy Cross has maps and compasses which illustrates the liability for the soldiers in his control. The soldiers are faced with the fear burden as well as the load of their status. However, even each affiliate of the company has anxiety at some point; portraying it would show vulnerability to cruel fellow fighters and enemy.

After the battle, the mental burdens that men carry continue to affect their lives because those who survived have confusion, grief, and guilt. For example in the Love narration, Jimmy discloses that he always remembers lavender’s death (O’Brien 176). The author uses memories and physical burdens to show the humankind of the Vietnamese battles. Norman’s confusion and grief are powerful such that they make him drive aimlessly around the lake. Even if Norman carries the mental loads alone, the author shares the war stories through the collection of the narrations to persuade the reader to carry a load of Vietnam battle as part of the collective past.

In various situations, O’ Brien uses his personal experience to illustrate the anxiety of being ashamed before someone’s peers as the strong influencing factor in battle. Through the narration On the Rainy River, the writers elaborate the moral quandary after obtaining the draft notice. The author does not want to go to the battle since he believes it is unjust although he fears to be thought as a coward. The thing that prohibited the narrator from fleeing to Canada is not dedication or patriotism to his nation’s cause which is the traditional motivating factors for going to battle but the concerns over what his community or family would think of if he refused to fight. The fears of humiliation not only influence reluctant soldiers to go to battle but also impact fighters’ association with each other on the battlefield. The concerns regarding societal acceptance makes the characters to engage in dangerous or absurd activities. For example, Lemon selects to have a perfect tooth removal so that to ease the disgrace when he fainted during the previous encounter with a dentist (O’Brien 212). The youth of the soldiers, the weirdness of Vietnam and anxiety of the battle mixes to establish the psychological risks that intensify the inherent dangers of fighting.

Besides, the author demonstrates ambiguous morality to demonstrate humanity during the Vietnam War. The narrations illustrate that the jungle smudges the boundaries between wrong and right. The vicious killing of the guiltless on both sides is demonstrated when men deal with the pain of their feeling by showing irony. Mitchell ironically points out that “there is moral here” several times which shows immorality of the particular situation (O’Brien 213). Moreover, sander jokes that the tragic and accidental death of lavender occurred so that he could stay away from substance abuse. Due to the exposure of the war horrors, the men’s notion of the wrong and right bend and shift. For instance, Cross evens the score and deals with guilty by burning the whole village of Than Khe after the death of Ted Lavender. Similarly, Kiley dealt with frustration regarding Curt’s death by killing the water buffalo (O’Brien 198). Moreover, the senselessness of war makes O’Brien who is a college education and peaceful man to feel callous as well as wishing other harm.

Further, the author creates and narrates the story in a manner that he demonstrates the loneliness and isolation in Vietnam. The segregation and solitude are regarded as the destructive forces similar to other types of ammunition. Through the emphasis on the effect of seclusion on the troops, the author depicts the worries, fears and thought as dangerous. So that to show the evil of revenge, the writer reflects on his fear of being removed from the outside world which indicates that the isolation in Vietnam is the endless time dealing with unknown. For instance, Bowker feels isolated and empty after the battle which demonstrates the humanity part of the war (O’Brien 232).

Conclusively, the novel contains various scenes that make the reader understand the humankind of Vietnam War. The author utilizes more than one device to elaborate the humanity of the battle which includes flashbacks, symbolism, irony as well as different themes. The stories are narrated in the first and third perspective which helps to make the reader part of the story and emphasizing humanity. There are various situations in the book which show people worried or in critical conditions that creating the sense of horror or anxiety.

Work Cited

O’Brien, Tim. The Things They Carried. Bridgewater, NJ: Distributed by Paw Prints/Baker & Taylor, 2012. Print.

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