Literary Analysis Essay: The Things They Carried

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Thomas McKean High School Hannah Rosato Literary Analysis Essay The Things They Carried is not a linear narrative because the book’s events don’t occur in chronological order. Tim O’Brien uses literary devices to unite the events and developments in the stories. The literary devices I have noticed are ‘symbol’ and ‘theme’. In the chapter Ambush, O’Brien uses symbol. “When she was nine, my daughter Kathleen asked if I had ever killed anyone. She knew about the war; she knew I’d been a soldier. “You keep writing these war stories,” she said, “so I guess you must’ve killed somebody.” It was a difficult moment, but I did what seemed right, which was to say, “Of course not,”” (Page 125). Kathleen represents a reader who can talk…show more content…
How to Tell a True War Story is pretty much the center piece of this book. The theme is about what O'Brien has been reaching toward with his regards to the accuracy of the story. The book is dedicated to the men of Alpha Company. He states their names although they’re the men who are in the stories. Were they real people? Did these events really happen? No. They did not. These people are not real. The stories are fiction. But fiction has truth. How? O'Brien creates an intentional paradox for his readers when he writes the violent, but grabbing story of Rat Kiley and then at the end of the story, tells the reader that the characters and events of the story did not happen just as he described them, but that they happened in a totally different way to other people. But he insists that the story is true. With this, O'Brien challenges the reader to discover the truth of the event. O'Brien gets the reader to figure out what fiction of this book is actually worth. Firstly, did O'Brien confuse the reader when he said that the events did not happen after the reader became involved in those events? Yes. But no more than any other writer. There is no King Kong. There is no Godzilla. There is no Red Riding Hood. Readers have known this all along and the reader should have known that there was no Rat Kiley. But O'Brien makes a point to write his story this way specifically. As does other writers. Why? Because they want to point out that the events are fiction. O’Brien also points out, very strongly, that there is truth in this story. Where is the truth? It doesn’t lie in the plot or the character or the setting, however, it’s in the theme. That is the theme of The Things They Carried as a whole. A writer’s literary devices can make or break their story. Tim O’Brien’s makes The Things They Carried the best it can be. Using symbol and theme with a bit of paradox is the result of how and why the book is not

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