Analysis Of Tim O 'Brien's The Things They Carried'

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The Things They Carried Author Tim O 'Brien has received many honors and much recognition for his book, The Things They Carried, which is based on his personal involvement in Vietnam. He was drafted in 1968 and served in the 23rd Infantry Division, which is otherwise called the American Division. A unit from this group had been charged with the slaughter at My Lai about a year prior to O 'Brien 's entry. Originally from Minnesota, O’Brien was born in 1946 making him about twenty-two years old when he was drafted (PBS 2013). The year he was drafted, he had graduated summa cum laude from Macalester College. He was in Vietnam between 1969 and March 1970, about one year total. After returning, he went back to college, to study at…show more content…
imperialism, ethnocentrism, and sexism. Conflict in the commentary is deliberately deceptive, “the objective of The Things They Carried, like other Vietnam War narratives, is not to open a traumatic event to multiple, vying interpretations, but rather to consolidate a satisfying mythic meta-narrative of American sin and redemption" (Clarke 135). The book underscores contending viewpoints which taken separately would be assumed on reliable. The contending viewpoints produce contending truths. Therefore there is no single narrative that is solely about depravity and evil or about salvation (Clarke 135). In an article by Linda Wells, a professor of contemporary fiction writes, “The soldiers carried things out of necessity: because the object might provide some measure of safety or security, as did the compass, the maps, the artillery, the ponchos, the dry socks; it might comfort them in a time of great fear, as did the letters from home, the photographs of sweethearts, a smooth rock sent by a friend from the Jersey shore” (Wells…show more content…
The most vital proclamations in the story explain the unchallengeable understanding of the Vietnam experience by those who were there. Without having been in Vietnam, and specifically, without having been battling in the war in Vietnam there is no way to comprehend the situation. By extension, people who were not there should not even be talking about it (Kaplan 43). O’Brien sets up the reader by explaining the work is sort of true and sort of fiction. In The Things They Carried, this question is raised even before the novel begins. The book opens with a reminder: "This is a work of fiction. Except for a few details regarding the author 's own life, all the incidents, names, and characters are imaginary." Two pages later we are told that "this book is lovingly dedicated to the men of Alpha Company, and in particular to Jimmy Cross, Norman Bowker, Rat Kiley, Mitchell Sanders, Henry Dobbins, and Kiowa" (Kaplan 46). So, the reader is given the impression right away that all of the work is true and then as the reader starts going through the book, he or she slowly realizes that the men in the dedication are characters in the book. This leaves the reader in a quandary, wondering if the characters in the book are based on men who really served with O’Brien in Vietnam or really were men who served in Vietnam
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