Free Things They Carried Essays: Syntactic and Paratactic Interpretation
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Syntactic and Paratactic Interpretation of The Things They Carried
The syntactic and paratactic styles of interpretation are both needed to interpret Tim O’Briens “The Things They Carried”. The syntactic aspect of interpretation deals with the imaginary or the things that aren’t said, but that are implied or that happen outside of what is said. Paratactic interpretation deals with the concrete details that stand out and are specifically stated. The media, although it didn’t change the outcome of the war much because it provided coverage of both negative and positive aspects, it was the first war to be covered by the media and therefore what it did cover, people believed. This can be observed in Tim O’Briens novel on the coverage of how the war started and how it was covered after the war started.
The historical approach to this novel with respect to the syntactic aspect can be observed if one looks at what the media said had started the war. The media stated that the war had been started because U.S. ships had been fired upon in friendly waters by hostile warships. Paratacticly this makes sense and should have started a war in which we sent over troops that felt that they were protecting their country, which might have actually changed the outcome of the war. Syntactically, though, the story was that we had been in two previous tiffs (Cuba and Laos) and had lost. This caused the president to be looked at in an unfavorable light, which made him and others in power, to stage a war that he thought we could win. In reality there were no known hostile ships anywhere near the area that our ships went down and he was blindly following a belief that communism should be contained in order not to have a domino effect. The media later portrayed this portrait of the war, but it was too late for many young teenagers that had just gotten out of high school. Another example of syntactic analysis is where the media reported a death count. Paratactically the death count represented the number of bodies dead, but this is misleading. The death count, for one thing, is misleading because the entire country was covered with mines and these explosives killed both friend and foe. After they had gone off, there was little left of the body. This leads to miscounting because if the body is blown into microscopic pieces it is hard to tell if one, two, or three people died, and who’s side they were on.