The Things They Carried Response

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Thematic Response to “The Things They Carried” Tim O’Brien has honed his story-telling into an exact science. He has written a number of books on the Vietnam War, most of which he has based upon his own experience “half a life time ago.” This traumatic event in his life pointed him towards writing as an outlet for the burdens he carried from the war. Tim O’Brien embraces the suffering that he endured during the Vietnam War in order to tell stories of the reality without the boundaries of truth. The theme of the story is that Tim O’Brien uses storytelling to create a meaning in his life. Rather than dwell in the regrets of his past, he welcomes the memories into his imagination and the outcome of his life’s work. He says, “I think of myself not as a soldier anymore. That’s all over. I think of myself as someone who now and then writes about the war” (O’Brien, “An Interview with Tim O’Brien”). O’Brien has overcome the dark days that he was a soldier by taking responsibility for the things he has done through storytelling. He writes, “By telling stories, you objectify your own experience. You separate it from yourself. You pin down certain truths. You make up others” (O’Brien, The Things They Carried). He takes notes from his memory and completes the rest with his imagination. O’Brien says, “In fiction we not only transform reality, we sort of invent our own lives, invent our histories, our autobiographies” (O’Brien, “An Interview with Tim O’Brien”). Another will to meaning is experiencing things or encountering people. Tim O’Brien sustains the people he encountered by keeping their memories alive in the stories he writes. A good example of this is the narrator, Tim O’Brien, explaining a little girl named Linda who died of cancer when he was a young boy. He says, “It had all the shadings and complexities of mature adult love, and maybe more, because there were not
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