Literary Modes in War Literature, Such as The Things They Carried Essay

Literary Modes in War Literature, Such as The Things They Carried Essay

Length: 1421 words (4.1 double-spaced pages)

Rating: Powerful Essays

Open Document

Essay Preview

Literary Modes in War Literature


The immediate impact of The Things They Carried is based on O'Brien's fidelity to detail. The things they carried were largely determined by necessity. Among the necessities or near necessities were P-38 can openers, pocket knives, heat tabs, wristwatches, dog tags, mosquito repellent, chewing gum, candy, cigarettes, salt tablets, packets of Kool-Aid, lighters, matches, sewing kits, Military Payment Certificates, C rations, and two or three canteens of water. Together these items weighed between 15 and 20 pounds. These facts are combined with the intangible and the psychological. They all carried ghosts, they shared the weight of memory and they carried all the emotional baggage of men who might die or already have passed away. O'Brien uses his detail and sense of war to bring meaning to his war story. I felt that the use of Tragedy, Myth and Gothic were well constructed literary modes in the novel "The Things They Carried". These men in the story carry heavy physical loads, they also all carry heavy emotional loads, composed of grief, terror, love, and longing. Each man's physical burden underscores his emotional burden. After the war, the psychological burdens the men carry during the war continue to define them. Those who survive carry guilt, grief, and confusion, and many of the stories in the collection are about these survivors' attempts to come to terms with their experience.
Repeatedly in The Things They Carried O'Brien forces this image before us to convey the tragedy of war. It also serves as a metaphor for combat to American soldiers in Vietnam "the shit" referred to "the day-to-day combat operations endured by GIs in the field" (Clark 463). O'Brien relays this conventional metap...


... middle of paper ...


...trasting external mythologies to internal mythologies and comparing them both to real truths. O'Brien begins to make these comparisons right from start, as he presents the external mythology of courage in opposition to the experience of his soldiers. O'Brien says, "The war is entirely a matter of posture and carriage" (15). This is not merely a reference to how the soldiers must stand or how they carry their packs. It is also about the things the soldiers carry in their minds, and the posture they must maintain is the challenge to show bravery in the face of immense fear.
Myth, such as O'Brien at the helm of modern war novels, the term courage takes on new dimensions. It becomes more personal. It requires an honest quest by the individual to discover his or her own internal truths. Once found, we need to have the courage to defend it against the enemy that is myth.

Need Writing Help?

Get feedback on grammar, clarity, concision and logic instantly.

Check your paper »

Literature - Postmodern Literary Criticism Essay

- Postmodern Literary Criticism   Postmodernism attempts to call into question or challenge the notion of a single absolute unified master narrative without simply replacing it with another. It is a paradoxical, recursive, and problematic method of critique.   It encourages transcendence through or in spite of limitation, while simultaneously decentering the concept of absolute transcendence. To this end, it encourages the development of a heightened sense of self in relation to itself and the world around it....   [tags: Literature Essays Literary Criticism]

Free Essays
1064 words (3 pages)

Essay on Sex and Defence as Modes of Discourse

- According to Paul Simpson, author of, ‘On the Discourse of Satire: Towards a Stylistic Model of Satirical Humour,’ the successful projection of satire must accomplish “simultaneously a number of humorous functions” (p. 4). In the introduction to his argument, Simpson states that satire as discourse should be understood “as a level of language organization that supersedes that of the sentence and as a type of meaning potential that arises out of the interaction between text and context” (p.1). The juxtaposition that Simpson describes here between text and context, indicates how satire as a literary tool relies heavily on both interpretation and topicality; whereby, satirical references must e...   [tags: Literary Analysis ]

Powerful Essays
923 words (2.6 pages)

The Things They Carried Essay

- 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....   [tags: Literary Analysis, History]

Powerful Essays
1606 words (4.6 pages)

Who can be integrated into the literary canon of American Literature? Essay

- This is a good question; Due to what American Literature stands for, who can be part of the literary canon. I think literature (American or otherwise) serves as a means by which one can examine a society's values, ideas, hopes, fears, and dreams through fiction or oral literature. Those who have had an impact on their society create something that many people will read of or look upon in different ethnicities, ages, social class, etc; However, does It always have to be an author or an writing documentation to exactly fit in the category of American Literature?; My opinion I would have to say no American Literature should be a Varity of people who made a difference in American not just by wri...   [tags: American Literature]

Powerful Essays
1436 words (4.1 pages)

Modes of Foreign Entry Essay examples

- All research fully carried out on Entry nodes on the long run remain limited to large manufacturing firms. The foreign market selection and the choice of its entry modes drastically ascertain the performance of a specific firm. Entry mode can be defined as an arrangement for an organization that is organizing and conducting business in foreign countries like contractual transfers, joint ventures, and wholly owned operations (Anderson, 1997). Internationalization is part of a strategy which is going on for businesses and organizations transfers their operations across the national borders (Melin, 1992)....   [tags: Strategic Management Essays]

Powerful Essays
1603 words (4.6 pages)

Tim O'Brien's Zeugmatic Novel, The Things They Carried Essay

- Tim O'Brien's Zeugmatic Novel, The Things They Carried An early example of zeugma comes from Quintilian, the ancient Roman rhetorician, who cites the following from Cicero: "Lust conquered shame, boldness fear, madness reason," where the verb "conquered" is understood to also govern the final two phrases in the sentence (Crowley 203). The 18th century, an age of great rhetorical knowledge on the part of writers and preachers (and at least one writer-preacher, Laurence Sterne), is the heyday of zeugma....   [tags: Things They Carried Essays]

Free Essays
1469 words (4.2 pages)

Things They Carried Essay: Buried Social Issues Exposed

- Buried Social Issues Exposed in The Things They Carried The Things They Carried by Tim O'Brien is a wonderful and personal look into one of this countries darkest times. The vivid imagery that the author uses lets the reader actually experience the feeling of actually being in the war. By using the cultural studies method of literary criticism, we can use the social conditions during the time of the writing to explore beneath the surface. What we find underneath just might be more interesting than the story itself....   [tags: Things They Carried Essays]

Powerful Essays
935 words (2.7 pages)

Myth of Courage Exposed in The Things They Carried Essay

- Ah for a young man all looks fine and noble if he goes down in war, hacked to pieces under a slashing bronze blade he lies there dead. . .but whatever death lays bare all wounds are marks of glory. (Homer 22.83-87)   As students we are brainwashed by ancient myths such as The Iliad, where war is extolled and the valorous warrior praised. Yet, modern novels such as Tim O'Brien's The Things They Carried (THINGS) challenge those very notions. Like The Iliad, THINGS is about war. It is about battles and soldiers, victory and survival, yet the message O'Brien gives us in THINGS runs almost contradictory to the traditional war story....   [tags: The Things They Carried]

Powerful Essays
2673 words (7.6 pages)

Essay on The Things They Carried by Tim O'Brien

- The Things They Carried by Tim O'Brien “The Things They Carried” was a story about soldiers caught in the confusion of the Vietnam War. There are a lot of apparent themes that are dealt with when writing a story about war, especially about death. I enjoyed reading this story; however there were some things about it that I was concerned about. I would like to discuss the author’s style of writing, his meaning of the title “The Things They Carried” and the way the author and his characters deal with death....   [tags: War Things Carried O'Brien]

Powerful Essays
1104 words (3.2 pages)

Jane Eyre Essay

- Jane Eyre In the time of Jane Eyre, an aristocratic gentleman’s education did not end with secondary schooling. The final step in such an Englishman’s education was to take a Grand Tour of Europe. Thomas Nugent, an influential travel writer, describes the Grand Tour as "a custom so visibly tending to enrich the mind with knowledge, to rectify the judgment, to remove the prejudices of education, to compose the outward manners, and in a word form the complete gentleman" (Buzard 98). Throughout the novel, Rochester makes countless references to his travels and conquests on Continental Europe....   [tags: Literature Literary Papers]

Free Essays
2135 words (6.1 pages)