In the book “The Things They Carried”, O’Brien uses imagery, figurative language and repetition to convey his message. O’Brien’s purpose for story telling, is to clear his conscience of war and to tell the stories of soldiers who were forgotten by society. Many young men were sent to war, despite opposing it. They believed it was “wrong” to be sent to their deaths. Sadly, no one realizes a person’s significance until they die. Only remembering how they lived rather than acknowledging their existence when they were alive.
O’Brien uses a lot of imagery and sensory detail in his stories, many of which make me wonder if these stories are in fact fiction. “His jaw was in his throat, his upper lips and teeth were gone, his one eye was shut, his other eye was a star shaped hole…” pg. 124 The detail of the dead soldier’s body almost seems illusory; as if it was made for the sole purpose of frightening the reader and letting them know the horrors of war.
“In many cases a true war story cannot be believed. If you believe it, be skeptical. Often the crazy stuff is true and the normal stuff isn’t, because the normal stuff is necessary to make you believe the truly incredible craziness.” Pg. 71 This is very true. It follows the saying “You can’t handle the truth” because if one hears it, they think it’s a lie, or the truth being stretched. The use of imagery allows the author to express the emotion he had when he was at war.
He was a young man in his twenties, pressured by his family and peers to fight for his country despite not wanting to. The use of imagery allows the reader to see through his eyes. Though untrue, the fact is it could have happened. This gives the reader a “taste...
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...ionalized. The figurative language expresses emotions. Words can only classify emotions. However they are unfathomable and can only be expressed through “exaggerations”. To compare one self to the author’s feeling is the only way for the emotion to be understood. The repetition is used to show the struggle of letting go of the past. O’Brien becomes a writer and finds that he can’t let go so easily. He writes stories more than once to find a point in why it haunts him and why he must move on.
What O’Brien sees as the purpose of the storytelling, and fictionalizing his experiences in Vietnam, can be seen through the “style” of his writing. It’s more than just a collection of stories. It’s a way for him to let go and start a new beginning. It is labeled “fiction” to make the story seem more engaging and to bring up the question, “Did this really happen?”
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