O'Brien's Things They Carried Essay: An American Nightmare

O'Brien's Things They Carried Essay: An American Nightmare

Length: 1470 words (4.2 double-spaced pages)

Rating: Powerful Essays

Open Document

Essay Preview


History has shaped every country and their people, in particular negative experiences like the Holocaust in Nazi-Germany or the Vietnam war, involving the United States in a grueling controversy from 1964 until 1975. The author Tim O'Brian confronts an American audience in his short stories "The Things They Carried" with the inhumane consequences of political and military power decisions by rewriting history from a subjective,individual point of view. Thus he forces the audience to take a stand, to ask questions, to get morally and ethically involved.

The narrative structure of the "Sweetheart of the Song Tra Bong" and "How to Tell a True War Story" contains two levels, the first on being a discourse about the characters of Vietnam stories. The "I", the narrator, introduces 'Rat' Kiley as his source for the narrative that follows. He characterizes stories about war as "strange", "swirling back and forth across the border between trivia and bedlam, the mad and mundane". The stories have a life of their own, reality is not absolute, not final. With this image he describes the ambiguity of war itself, the normality that turns into insanity, he summarizes the narrative about Mary Ann Bell and her experiences with the war. The narrator clearly states the purposes of these stories, he is not interested in factual truths about the war, he openly questions the reliability of his source: "Rat had a reputation for exaggeration and overstatement". He wants the audience to "feel exactly what he felt", an emotional experience, a subjective approach.

The second narrative level tells the story about Mary Ann Bell, the "Sweetheart of the Song Tra Bong". The narrator, probably the author, retells Rat's story in his own words, so that t...


... middle of paper ...


...ositive as well as its negative accomplishments. But how is this to be done, how do we deal with history personally and politically? Ths author Tim O'Brian gives us one answer in "How to Tell a True War Story" on page 69: "You can tell a true war story if it embarrasses you. It you don't care for obscenity, you don't care for the truth; if you don't care for the truth, watch how you vote. Send guys to war, they come home talking dirty". In other words if you don't want war watch how you vote. The connotation of this statement is far reaching, it naturally places responsibility on the American government for having participated in the war, but it foremost appeals to the american public to take responsibility and to use this history, this story to create a better future.

Works Cited:

O'Brien, Tim. The Things They Carried.New York: Penguin Books USA Inc., 1990.

Need Writing Help?

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

Check your paper »

The Things They Carried by Tim OBrien Essay

- the things they carried truth The definition of truth is the epitome of what we we all perceive to be reality. Truth is what we sometimes think about in the back of our head, but we are unsure of whether this truth is really “true.” The objective correlative is another term that is used to refer to truth. The objective correlative is getting enough people to feel the same emotion and agree upon it. Objective correlative also refers to the objective truth or the facts. It’s trying to get the subjective truth to become objective, then subjective for each person....   [tags: Truth, Objective Fact, Literary Analysis]

Powerful Essays
2258 words (6.5 pages)

The Horrors of War: Coping In The Things They Carried Essay

- Author and Vietnam veteran Tim Obrien writes of the horrors of the Vietnam War through a collection of related short stories in his novel, The Things They Carried. It is a work of fiction mixed with bits of truth based on his experiences during the war. The novel is heralded by many as a modern classic and one of the quintessential novels to read in a lifetime. The novel has inspired two feature films, and can be found on the required reading lists of high school history classes and college literature courses across the United States....   [tags: Tim Obrien, Vietnam veteran stories]

Powerful Essays
1552 words (4.4 pages)

Things They Carried in The Great Train Robbery and The Things They Carried

- The soldiers that fought in the Vietnam War had to endure many incredibly horrifying experiences. It was these events that led to great human emotions. It was those feelings that were the things they carried. Everything they carried affected on them whether it was physical or mental. Every thing they carried could in one-way or another cause them to emotionally or physically break down. Pain, loss, a sense of safety and fear were probably the most challenging emotional, and psychological feelings for them to carry....   [tags: The Things They Carried Essays]

Powerful Essays
1746 words (5 pages)

Wilfred Owen's Dulce Et Decorum Est, Tim OBrien's The Things They Carried, and Siegfried Sassoon's Suicide in the Trenches

- Wilfred Owen's Dulce Et Decorum Est, Tim OBrien's The Things They Carried, and Siegfried Sassoon's Suicide in the Trenches Many war pieces express a distinct sense of truth, hatred, and anger that can be found in the style, tone, and imagery they possess. Incredible images are created in ones mind as war writings are read and heard. Works written by such writers as Siegfried Sassoon, Wilfred Owen, and Tim OBrien really reach out to the audience by way of the authors choice of words and images that they use in their writing....   [tags: Owen Dulce OBrien Carried Sassoon Essays]

Powerful Essays
1362 words (3.9 pages)

Things They Carried Essay: American Heroes

- The Things They Carried: American Heroes "Speaking of Courage" in Tim O'Brien's The Things They Carried, is more than a story about a soldier's personal experience of the Vietnam War. It is more than a story about his fight for his country, God, and fellow soldiers, and not to mention his return home. "Speaking of Courage" is not only an allegorical story about the disconnection between Vietnam and the rest of the world, but also an allegory about the disconnection between the soldiers and the life they once led....   [tags: Things They Carried Essays]

Powerful Essays
871 words (2.5 pages)

O'Brien's Things They Carried Essay: An American Nightmare

- History has shaped every country and their people, in particular negative experiences like the Holocaust in Nazi-Germany or the Vietnam war, involving the United States in a grueling controversy from 1964 until 1975. The author Tim O'Brian confronts an American audience in his short stories "The Things They Carried" with the inhumane consequences of political and military power decisions by rewriting history from a subjective,individual point of view. Thus he forces the audience to take a stand, to ask questions, to get morally and ethically involved....   [tags: Things They Carried Essays]

Powerful Essays
1470 words (4.2 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)

Things They Carried Essay: Disembodiment

- Disembodiment in The Things They Carried    With some knowledge of war, one can begin to appreciate Tim O' Brien's The Things They Carried.  But when the work is viewed in its strict historical context, another layer of  meaning rises to the surface.  Tim O' Brien is a veteran; as a result there are many things he takes for granted (or so we think) and does not tell us.  America's involvement in the Vietnam war resulted from internal domestic politics rather than from the national spirit.  American soldiers had to fight a war without a cause, i.e....   [tags: Things They Carried Essays]

Powerful Essays
735 words (2.1 pages)

Things They Carried Essay: Rebirth of a Spirit

- Rebirth of a Spirit in The Things They Carried Speaking of courage is a story found in Tim O ' Brien's The Things They Carried about a solider named Norman Bowker who has returned home from the Vietnam War. As Bowker circles the town's "source of pride" he comes to realize that the town that he left so many years ago will never be the same. While his life was paused by the war, theirs weren't. He also comes to understand that while the people he once knew have changed that he has also changed....   [tags: Things They Carried Essays]

Free Essays
976 words (2.8 pages)

Things They Carried Essay: The Living Dead

- The Living Dead in The Things They Carried I have done things that I am not proud of and some things that will never be mentioned in public again. In everything that I did wrong I tried to justify or make it seem to be less of a negative act. Tim O'Brien does not do this in his short story named "The Man I Killed." O'Brien instead gives the young Vietnamese man a history, a present, and a whole life. He does this by creating an elaborate story of teenage love, family conflict, and personal pride....   [tags: Things They Carried Essays]

Free Essays
832 words (2.4 pages)