The Role of Storytelling in The Things They Carried

analytical Essay
2570 words
2570 words

The impact of the Vietnam War upon the soldiers who fought there was huge. The experience forever changed how they would think and act for the rest of their lives. One of the main reasons for this was there was little to no understanding by the soldiers as to why they were fighting this war. They felt they were killing innocent people, farmers, poor hard working people, women, and children were among their victims. Many of the returning soldiers could not fall back in to their old life styles. First they felt guilt for surviving many of their brothers in arms. Second they were haunted by the atrocities of war. Some soldiers could not go back to the mental state of peacetime. Then there were soldiers Tim O’Brien meant while in the war that he wrote the book “The Things They Carried,” that showed how important the role of story telling was to soldiers. The role of stories was important because it gave them an outlet and that outlet was needed both inside and outside the war in order to keep their metal state in check. One of the hardest events that a soldier had to go through during the war was when one of their friends was killed. Despite their heartbreak they could not openly display their emotions. They could not cry because soldiers do not cry. Such an emotional display like crying would be sign of weakness and they didn’t want to be weak, so they created an outlet. “They were actors. When someone died, it wasn’t quite dying because in a curious way it seemed scripted”(19). Of course things were scripted especially when Ted Lavender died. It had happened unexpectedly and if they didn’t have something planned to do while they were coping they would all have broken down especially Lieutenant Cross. Cross... ... middle of paper ... ...n amnesiac nation into “working through” its troubled past.” (Bly ,189) Story telling was the soldier’s salvation, their survival method. Being able to tell their stories let them express everything they were feeling and ultimately cope with the horrors of war and the guilt the carried. Bibliography Bloom, Harlod. “Summary and Analysis.” Bloom's Guide: The Things They Carried (2005): 24. Bly, Robin. "O'Brien's The Things They Carried." Explicator 61.3 (2003): 189. Brant, Martha. “The Fallout.” Newsweek 146.9 (2005): 36. Heberle, Mark. "Contemporary Literary Criticism." O'Brien, Tim. The Things They Carried. Vol. 74. New York, 2001. 312. O'Brien, Tim. The Things They Carried. New York: Mariner, 1990. Rielly, Edward J. “Out of the Landscape of His Past.” Journal of American Cultuer 16.3 (1993): 47. Wildin, Rowena. "Tomcat in Love." Essay. 2006.

In this essay, the author

  • Explains the impact of the vietnam war on the soldiers who fought there. they felt guilt for surviving many of their brothers in arms, and were haunted by the atrocities of war. tim o'brien wrote the book "the things they carried."
  • Analyzes how a soldier's heartbreak was when one of their friends was killed. they could not openly display their emotions because soldiers don't cry, so they created an outlet.
  • Analyzes how lavender imagined himself barefoot on a beach in new jersey with martha, whose love for him he knows is entirely imagined, but to him feels real.
  • Explains that lavender's death was hard because they knew he would be the first of many that would die too young, just like millions of other men had died during the war.
  • Explains how the men in tim o'brien's platoon caught on quickly, expressing their grief without showing it. the death of kiowa was one of those impossible to get over.
  • Explains that o'brien and norman bowker needed to tell their story to prove to themselves that they did all they could have done and in no way was kiowa’s death their fault.
  • Explains that ptsd doesn't just come from having a near-death experience, but how personalized it is. all therapy comes down to the same idea: confront what happened.
  • Opines that norman bowker never truly had someone to talk about the war. he wanted everyone to know what the soldiers went through in vietnam and he wanted to be able to do that through story telling.
  • Explains that stories are for joining the past to the future, and for eternity, when memory is erased and there is nothing to remember.
  • Analyzes how soldiers used stories to express their emotions to others and deal with their own emotions. the poet-veteran must remember the war and transform it into something worth remembering.
  • Opines that rat kiley's facts were formed by sensation, not the other way around. when one listened to one of his stories, one would perform rapid calculations in their head.
  • Opines that rat kiley was the one who believed that if he could tell anyone a story, they could learn something from him. he had been in vietnam the longest and wanted the new guys to understand the importance of listening to each other.
  • Explains that story telling is a great escapism from all the events of war and allowed them to recount something pleasant from back home. henry dobbins and lieutenant cross stories didn't need to be real to get them through the hard days
  • Narrates how the soldier's mind wandered and he would yell at his men to spread out in the column, but then slip away into daydreams, walking barefoot along the jersey shore, with martha, carrying nothing.
  • Explains that even though cross didn't have a relationship with martha, it mattered to him and many other soldiers that they could have an escape from the war.
  • Explains how o'brien's and his fellow solider, norman bowker, experienced very different transitions going back to peace time.
  • Analyzes how the soldier had been there as a real soldier and had done all the things soldiers do. he could not bring himself to be uncommonly brave, and would have talked about the medal he didn't win.
  • Narrates how norman created his own escape by speculating on what would happen if someone was listening and incorporating virtual strangers into his stories.
  • Explains that they never spoke much about the war, but they had been talking about it virtually nonstop through their writing. telling stories seemed natural, inevitable process, like clearing the throat.
  • Analyzes how o'brien began to question why he could only write down his stories instead of recounting them like so many others did.
  • Explains that story telling was a life savor for many men trying to survive in and out of the war. however, telling stories to just themselves wasn't always enough for some, especially once they returned home.
  • Cites bloom's guide: the things they carried, by robin bly, and martha brant. o'brien, tim.

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