Detachment from reality is what the main characters in both Tim O’Brien’s “The Things They Carried” and Edgar Allen Poe’s “The Masque of the Red Death” express. “The Things They Carried” is the collection of interrelated short stories of Lieutenant Cross and his experiences throughout the Vietnam War. “The Masque of the Red Death” is the story of a prince who fears the “Red Death” who hides himself, along with some townspeople, to escape from the terrible disease. Each character, despite having two very different roles in their lives, have to face reality. In order to fully understand the relationship between these two works, each of these factors in turn.
Central to both O’Brien and Poe’s stories is the idea that both their central characters are denying reality and hiding from it. O’Brien and Poe introduce their stories with a discussion of each character’s feelings towards the events occurring around them. In both stories, each main character paints a picture of their own desires and fears, and their intentional ignorance of the outside world.
In “The Things They Carried”, Lieutenant Cross made an illusory relationship with Martha, even when he knows “that Love was only a way of signing and did not mean what he sometimes pretended it meant.”(O’Brien 10). This illusion deflects him from leading his own group. He is later snapped back into reality with the death of the soldier Ted Lavender, who ‘was shot in the head on his way back from peeing”(13), which occurs while he was fantasizing about his relationship with Martha. Cross blames himself for the tragedy. It is revealed in “Love” that Cross’s feelings for Martha, whom he dated once before leaving for Vietnam, were never reciprocated, and that even twenty year...
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... is no end, and you have to live on and grow. O’Brien’s and Poe’s characters, both grasp this concept of reality, and unmask their desires, and face the consequences of their daydreams. The authors successfully demonstrate Lieutenant Jimmy Cross, Timmy O’Brien, and Prospero’s psychological states, and in doing so allow the reader to see their desires building up, until they are snapped back to reality. Readers can see how the masking of reality and this detachment of grasping reality, snapped each charter back, and made them reevaluate what they did. While “The Things They Carried” demonstrates that you have to carry on with life, “The Masque of the Red Death” demonstrates how our emotions can get in the way of facing reality. O’Brien’s and Poe’s make the point as to the harsh truth of snapping back to reality and its consequences of what we 've done in our own world.
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