Feminism in The Things They Carried by Tim O´brien Essay

Feminism in The Things They Carried by Tim O´brien Essay

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Of all the literary lenses, one would not think that feminism would be a prevalent topic in a war novel. In Tim O’Brien’s iconic book, The Things They Carried, the idea that women were just as important as men acts an important theme, however from a different perspective. Movies and epic war stories tell of the heroic actions of the World’s finest: bulky men with an appetite for battle. Yet, there always lied a backbone. Comfort, inspiration, ease, all things that women provided to soldiers during any war. Yet, sometimes things did not go as planned and rash actions were made. O’Brien’s masterful use of lenses creates an interesting novel, one that will stand the test of time, however, the aspects of the feminist lens provides much insight into the inner lying meanings of the book, mostly in the areas of characters, objects of importance, and the role of gender in the Vietnam War.
To understand feminism in the novel, one must first understand the feminist lens itself. OWL Purdue describes the lens as “the ways in which literature (and other cultural productions) reinforce or undermine the economic, political, social, and psychological oppression of women” (Purdue). Feminism acts as both a commitment and a political movement that wants to end sexism in all forms. Most feminists generally disagree on many topics of the subject, however all have one common goal. These aspects affect The Things They Carry in a plethora of ways, mostly due to the fact that gender roles is a main theme. There are negative and positive aspects of the feminist lens. Positive contains the empowering of women and equality, whereas negative pertains to oppression and unequal rights. Both are covered in The Things They Carried from sex symbols to battle tor...


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...as Mary Ann in the novel show that women can do so much more than sew and cook. Without women, all wars would have been a lot harder. Although men tend to keep a macho facade in order to calm others (such as the women in their lives), inside they may be like glass, easy to break. A society set on the ideal stoic, fearless warrior who acts ruthlessly and saves the damsel in distress (also showing that women are weak) obviously is one where doomed to sexism. Without the comfort and inspiration, men would have deteriorated in the face of death. All and all, women provided the needed comfort, nursing, “manpower”, and love that the soldiers of Vietnam need, something that helped them endure the havoc of war. O’Brien’s expert use of the feminist lens allows the reader to know that women indeed were a powerhouse in the Vietnam war, without whom, men would have perished.




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