O'Brien and Fossie in The Things They Carried

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When many think of a great, memorable story, they will probably remember an inspirational or coming of age novel, or Bildungsroman. In many ways, The Things They Carried is an exemplary Bildungsroman as it carries the reader through the lives and problems of every soldier within its pages. Each man is witnessed as he goes through his own maturation and personal times of struggle and hardships. Some are focused on more than others, but each man has a story to tell, each a moral to teach. Throughout The Things They Carried, both Tim O?Brien and Mark Fossie experience a significant amount of personal maturation by gaining new knowledge about themselves, the Vietnam War, and the world around them.

There are very few times when a person goes through an experience that changes the way he or she thinks about themselves. Drastic things like war, deaths, and tragic incidents can change a person?s life and shape the way they live. In ?The Man I Killed,? Tim O?Brien describes his life changing event when he killed the Vietnamese soldier crossing his path when he was on duty. The reader learns that O?Brien is endlessly sorry for the poor soldier, whom he thoroughly describes in his mind. It is the first time he had ever killed, and it is known that O?Brien continues to remember the soldier throughout his entire life, making him change the way he thinks about himself as both a soldier and a human being. Mark Fossie realizes that life, especially his relationship with Mary Anne, is not as simple as he expected when Mary Anne takes a soldierly turn in Vietnam and turns out to not be the girl Mark had wanted to spend the rest of his life with.

In most cases, an occurrence that shapes the way one thinks about their current predicament, su...

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...ng that nobody wants to know. When his first and only love, Mary Anne, comes all the way from the United States to be with Mark and explore the soldiers? way of life, the girl becomes lost in a Vietnam that she finds so wonderful that she becomes hungry for more. Mary Anne becomes seduced by the Green Berets? way of life and leaves Mark, their love, and her entire life behind her. Only then does Fossie see that the world is a cruel place that can take wrong turns at all the wrong times.

By gaining knowledge about themselves, the Vietnam War, and the world around them, O?Brien and Fossie become completely different soldiers. Though these two soldiers see and experience things that they could never imagine, Tim O?Brien and Mark Fossie manage to recognize themselves, the war, and the world for what is really is and undergo an amazing amount of personal maturation.

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