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The Things They Carried by Tim O`Brien Analysis Essay

Custom Student Mr. Teacher ENG 1001-04 20 March 2017

The Things They Carried by Tim O`Brien Analysis

The Things They Carried by Tim O’Brien is a collection of short stories that portrays the war of Vietnam. O’Brien while writing this collection focused on different issues related to war. He repeats many events and tries to discriminate reality from truth. O’Brien’s specific style is not a thriller. He does not write suspense or in a detective kind of voice that a reader will keep hanged about the tragic or happy ending. In fact, he informs the reader in the start about the targeted ending and then keeps analyzing the facts behind it. O’Brien himself writes that you’ve to be skeptical when you read a war story because it can’t be a true story. Usually the fanatics came out to be true while many normal things in life are not. The things that Carried is his war memoir where facts are mixed with fiction.

While reading his stories the reader is usually lost in finding the solution that whether the story is narrating facts or fiction, or whether it is something true or just a fable.

“They carried the soldier’s greatest fear, which was the fear of blushing. Men killed, and died, because they were embarrassed not to. It was what had brought them to the war in the first place, nothing positive, no dreams of glory or honor, just to avoid the blush of dishonor. They died so as not to die of embarrassment.” (O’Brien)

After long term of miserable sufferings, his view of life is that it is filled with despair, depression and unhappiness. He didn’t narrate the story to get the support and sympathy from others but because it was a normal seeing in wars and to reveal true nature of life on others (as he viewed it). His advice to readers is that they should first investigate into the matter and then give their interpretation about the life.

“By telling stories, you objectify your own experience. You separate it from yourself. You pin down certain truths. You make up others. You start sometimes with an incident that truly happened, like the night in the shit field, and you carry it forward by inventing incidents that did not in fact occur but that nonetheless help to clarify and explain.” (O’Brien)

In above quotes O’Brien reflects his own views that truth is not always there in such stories. In fact, you start with something unusual and then you define it. Readers conceded that O’Brien’s views are correct and his life’s hardships are as cruel and adverse as hers. The war story show how humans suffer on this earth due their own evils. During his lifetime he had seen war, greed, killing and fight over money & women.

“I’d come to this war a quiet, thoughtful sort of person, a college grad, Phi Beta Kappa and summa cum laude, all the credentials, but after seven months in the bush I realized that those high, civilized trappings had somehow been crushed under the weight of the simple daily realities. I’d turned mean inside.” (O’Brien)

Many of the themes of his story overlapped themes of The Things They Carried. Hypocrisy of religion, greed for money, and use of money to overpower others and corruption were the main themes in the Vietnam War stories.


O`Brien , Tim. The Things They Carried.

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