The Things They Carried: (Review) Essay

The Things They Carried Review Term paper

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Briefly-- I would just like to explain why I chose the following book as a great source for research, and to compose a book review on. There is not only a lot of factual information about secrecy kept in Vietnam, which is of great help for my research plans, but also Tim O Brien very effectively informs me of how Americans were changed and what their thought processes were during the war. And by being able to understand
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what others went through, and how they thought, I will now be able to more accurately translate what my primary source is telling me during our interviews.The Things They Carried, By: Tim O Biren.DTATim O Brien s The Things They Carried is not a novel about the Vietnam War. It is a story about the soldiers and their experiences and emotions that are brought about from the war. O Brien makes several statements about war through these dynamic characters. He
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shows the violent nature of soldiers under the pressures of war, makes an effective antiwar statement, and he comments on the reversal of a social deviation into the norm. By skillfully employing the stylistic technique of specific, conscious detail selection and utilizing connotative diction, O Brien thoroughly and convincingly makes each point.The violent nature that the soldiers acquired during their tour in Vietnam is one of O Brien s predominant themes in his novel. By consciously selecting very descriptive details
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that reveal the drastic change in manner within the men, O Brien creates within the reader an understanding of the effects of war on its participants. The author also lets the reader understand how war changes well mannered men into men with no sense of morality or care. For example, a soldier named "Ted Lavender adopted an orphaned puppy. . .Azar strapped it to a Claymore antipersonnel mine and squeezed the firing device"(39). Azar has become demented ;to kill a
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puppy that someone else has adopted is horrible. However, the infliction of violence has become the norm of behavior for these men ;the fleeting moment of compassion shown by one man is instantly erased by another, setting order back within the group. O Brien here shows a hint of sensitivity among the men to set up a startling contrast between the past and the present for these men. The effect produced on the reader by this contrast is one of
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horror ;therefore fulfilling O Brien s purpose, to convince the reader of war s severely negative effects. In the buffalo story, "We came across a baby water buffalo. . .After supper Rat Kiley went over and stroked its nose. . .He stepped back and shot it through the right front knee. . .He shot it twice in the flanks. It wasn t to kill, it was to hurt"(85). Rat displays a severe emotional problem here ;however, it is still the
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norm. The startling degree of detached emotion brought on by the war is inherent in O Brien s detailed accounts of the soldiers actions concerning the lives of other beings. O Brien s use of specific and connotative diction enhances the same theme, the loss of sensitivity and increase in violent behavior among the soldiers. Even the most simple words used by O Brien have a lot of power and meaning, he knows exactly how to get the full
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reaction, of his own, from all readers. Just as perverse as killing innocent beings, though, is the killing of "a baby"(85), the connotation being associated with human infants even though it is used to describe a young water buffalo they torture. The idea of a baby is abstract, and the killing of one is frowned upon in modern society, regardless of species. O Brien creates an attitude of disgust in the reader with the word, further fulfilling his purpose in
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condemning violence. Even more drastic in connotation to be killed is the "orphaned puppy"(39). Adding to the present idea of killing babies is the idea of killing orphaned babies, which brings out rage within the reader. The whole concept is metaphoric, based on the connotations of key words ;nevertheless, it is extremely effective in conveying O Brien s theme. O Brien makes a valid, effective antiwar statement in The Things They Carried.
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