Joy Kogawa and Tim O’Brien: two authors that have wielded their mastery of the English language to yield literary masterpieces that reflect not only their own struggles, but the hardships of multitudes around them. In her acclaimed Obasan, Joy Kogawa illustrates the intense discrimination that was faced by Japanese-Canadians during World War 2, and provides many reflective anecdotes to give the reader some insight on her personal situation. Tim O’Brien accomplishes basically the same goal in The Things They Carried by giving the reader many brief stories about his time in the Vietnam War. These two books- though incredibly different on the surface - share a plethora of themes and symbology, as well as many similar events. They do not, however, emphasize or present these ideas in the same way. Each of these authors has a unique way of incorporating their own themes or values into their writing, which gives the reader an entirely different view of what may be happening.
The brain is an amazing thing. It allows us to think, blink, walk and talk; it enables us to run, hide, seek, and stride; but most importantly, it allows us to remember. Neither literary work takes a firm stance on their opinion of memories, as both have many different characters with many different opinions. Naomi views and even loosely mirrors Obasan’s opinions on memory; that the past be left to the past and the future will bear what is to come (65 Kogawa). This “Ashes to Ashes” stance is mirrored by Rat Kiley in The Things They Carried (SparkNotes Editors). Though Obasan has a much tougher exterior and is able to keep her composure, they are both haunted by cruel memories that they are trying to suppress. Rat, however, doesn’t have as much luck as ...
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...n previously expected. Things aren’t always what they seem; a concept that applies to the characters themselves. Obasan is more than just a wrinkled old lady, just as Rat Kiley is more than just an infantry soldier. Don’t judge a book by its cover, and don’t jump to conclusions; everyone is different. Take some time to find out and get to know someone, and you might just be surprised by The Things They Carried.
SparkNotes Editors. “SparkNote on Obasan.” SparkNotes.com. SparkNotes LLC. 2007. Web. 22 Feb. 2012.
SparkNotes Editors. “SparkNote on The Things They Carried.” SparkNotes.com. SparkNotes LLC. 2002. Web. 22 Feb. 2012.
Kogawa, Joy. Obasan. 1981. New York: First Anchor, 1994. Print.
The Purdue OWL. Purdue U Writing Lab, 2010. Web. Feb. 22 2012.
O'Brien, Tim. The Things They Carried. New York: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 1990. Print.