Madness in The Things They Carried

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Billy Wynne AP English Period 1 Emily Dickinson claimed that madness can be perceived rationally if looked at from a different perspective. Tim O’Briens novel, The Things They Carried, gives truth to this claim with the stories of soldiers in Vietnam. Irrational actions that occur in the book can be explained in the context of the war. In the chapter “The Things They Carried,” Tim O’Brien tells of his experiences in entering war, and the emotions that come with it.. He walks the reader through what each soldier in his squad carries, physically and emotionally. This is the first technique O’Brien uses to capture the readers attention and get his point across. Through relating physical and emotional weight, he shows us the theme that sometimes mental and emotional pain can be greater than physical pain. What he emphasizes throughout the chapter and book is the toll the war takes on each of the soldiers. The characters coped the best they could with the war; they didn’t want to be in Vietnam. One example of madness occurring in the book was when Lavender was shot. This was the first time the soldiers experienced a real death, or at least the first that we hear of in the book. It is shocking to all the soldiers, because there was no drama to experience, he was just shot dead in an instant. The madness resulting from the incident was the way in which the soldiers handled this. They make jokes about Ted Lavender’s death, and act as if it was in a movie, separated from reality. Next, they burn down a town and kill all the animals still in it. While seeing something like this on the news would be disturbing, through the context of the author’s perspective we can understand why they do this. They are all afraid of dying in shame, as noted when Tim O’Brien says “They carried the soldier's greatest fear, which was the fear of blushing. Men killed, and died, because
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