The Things They Carried By Tim O Brien: Literary Analysis

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The Things They Carried, a novel written by Tim O’Brien, raises the question of the extent of truthfulness of stories that are told from experience in which the novel is solely based on the accounts of war-veterans and their lives in Vietnam. The soldiers fighting in the war describe certain stories that have affected them the most and from that reader’s can interpret that the armed forces are able to capture the attention of their listeners through providing immense detail of the conditions, adding false information in order to increase suspense, and to evoke emotions with listeners to create parallel feelings with the story at hand. Through O’Brien’s techniques of writing these war accounts he blurs between actual truth and fiction. As a…show more content…
O’Brien describes his experience of killing a Vietnamese solider and describes him as “…a slim, dead, almost dainty young man of about twenty. He lay with one leg bent beneath him, his jaw in his throat, his face neither expressive nor inexpressive. One eye was shut. The other was a star-shaped hole” (O’Brien. 130). By emphasizing the death of this man consistently throughout the chapter, it pin point the agony he felt once he killed basically a man who was not fit for war. Through the constant descriptions of the dead body, it shows the emotional truth behind the feeling of killing a human being and from that readers can understand the anguish of taking the life of another person. These soldiers also had to endure killing people “because they were embarrassed not to” and the men had to sacrifice themselves so “they died so as not to die of embarrassment” (21). In “The Things They Carried” chapter, O’Brien goes in to great detail to tell every little thing each soldier carried and a major thing they carried was the feeling of honor and to die a man. This led the armed forces to die in battle because they would prove that they are real men. From all of the detail O’Brien writes, it answers the question of storytelling due to the fact that the detail make…show more content…
In “Notes” he explains that “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” (158). From this, O’Brien’s argument is that in storytelling, objective truth is not as important as the feeling that a story gives. This proves that in telling stories to people, the actual information is not as vital as the emotional appeal it provides to people. He also claims that “the thing about a story is that you dream it as you tell it, hoping that others might then dream along with you, and in this way memory and imagination and language combine to make spirits in the head” because what a person sees in their mind during a story with create personal emotions for someone. That is what telling a heart-wrenching story is all about, evoking emotions in a person to get the to understand the pain that a soldier felt in combat. Storytelling may have the fake events and the false information, but

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