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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