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“The Man I Killed” the author Tim O’ Brien is the character in the story but the story does not use first person. This is because the story is not revolved around him but revolved on the man he has just killed in the Vietnam war. The character in this story focuses on the dead man’s physicality and the story he has fabricated for him. The character in this story seems to be in shock because he does not speak or stop looking at the dead soldier, “Kiowa shook his head.
There was some silence before he said, “Stop staring…
Talk to me” (p. 797-798) In the story “The Lives of the Dead”, the narrator is Tim O’ Brien who tells the story of his first love who happens to be his first death. This story is in first person and he describes how he keeps those he has known alive by telling stories about them, “When I write about her now, three decades later, it’s tempting to dismiss it as a crush, an infatuation of childhood, but I know for a fact that what we felt for each other was as deep and rich as love can ever get.
Tim also describes his experiences in the war, “I remember the smell of burnt straw; I remember broken fences and torn-up trees and heaps of stone and brick and pottery. ” (p. 799) The repetition of dialogue in “The Man I Killed” gives the readers a sense of truth in the story and imagery of what the dead man looked like for the character.
As the character repeats over and over again what the man looked like and what his life was like before the war, it gives the readers a sense of the psychological affects the war had on men.
Using these techniques of imager and dialogue repetition in this story allowed me to get a deeper feeling of what shock and guilt felt like for these men. Although the reader may not have intended for me to feel these emotions this is what I felt during the reading. It allowed me to understand how the character consoled himself and also punished himself. For me if I imagined the young’s man’s life before the war and I took that away, I would consider this as a form of punishment.
Imagery is very detailed in both stories because one of them describes the man he has just killed, “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… ” (p. 795) and the soldiers fabricated life story, “He had been born, maybe, in 1946 in the village of My Khe near the central coastline of Quan Ngai Province, where his parents farmed… ” (p. 795)
In the other story he describes his first live, her death at age 9, and his experiences in the war especially with death, “The place was deserted-no people, no animals- and the only confirmed kill was an old man who lay face up-near a pigpen at the center of the village. ” (p. 799) The imagery of the people he has lost and his experiences with them allow the readers to get a feeling of how many people the narrator has lost or has seen died. We are allowed to get a feeling about death and the certain ways those around him coped with it and how he did too.
In the story “The Man I Killed” the character copes with his first kill in war by providing him with a story. He gives the young man a story which in turn gives him symbolically life. His life becomes to have meaning and he is no longer thought as a dead man but a person who had dreams, a wife, and longing to be far away from war, “He had no stomach for violence. He loved mathematics… And as he waited, in his final year at the university, he fell in love with a classmate, a girl of seventeen…
The use of Linda in the war story, “The Lives of the Dead” is to show his readers how he coped with his fisrt death who happened to be his first love. Linda, a girl at the age of 9 died from a brain tumor which devastates Tim O’ Brien who than begins to dream about her at night which provides him comfort knowing that in his dreams she still lived. This is how Brien coped with the deaths he experienced in war, “But ths too is true: stories can save us…. They’re all dead.
But in a story, which is kind of dreaming, the dead sometimes smile and sit uo and return to the world. ” (p. 799) The author story tells, metafiction, to keep those that have lost their lives from truly dying. Through the form of story he keeps them living and although these are stories of fiction, to the author it is preserving their lives. In the story “The Man I killed” he preserves the fallen soldier by inventing a fictitious life for him. For Linda and his fellow comrades he gives them stories too. “But in a story I can steal her soul.
I can revive, at least briefly, that which is absolute and unchanging. It’s not the surface that matters, it’s the identity that lives inside. ” Just as he imagines them and dreams of them, his stories become their new lives where they continue to live on. He knows if he continues to create these stories, they will never die and through this we can see the power of storytelling. “and sometimes I can even see Timmy skating with Linda under the yellow floodlights. I’m young and happy. I’ll never die. ”
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