Things They Carried Essay: Disembodiment

Things They Carried Essay: Disembodiment

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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. they were disembodied from the war.  But O' Brien never tells us this explicitly.  When Viewed from a historical perspective, The Things They Carried contains several syntactic allusions to the idea of disembodiment from the war.

 

One of the more obvious allusions is "The Ghost Soldiers."  The very title seems to suggest disembodiment - as though something were present, yet nothing at all.  Whenever O' Brien is bleeding to death in the field, he says that he feels "hollow." (O' Brien, 238)  Is it from blood loss or from the ...

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