Recent War Literature : By Phil Klay, And The Things They Carried By Tim O ' Brien

Recent War Literature : By Phil Klay, And The Things They Carried By Tim O ' Brien

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In the two novels of recent war literature Redeployment, by Phil Klay, and The Things They Carried, by Tim O’Brien, both call attention to the war’s destruction of its soldiers’ identities. With The Things They Carried, we are introduced to the story of a young Lieutenant Jimmy Cross who is currently fighting in the Vietnam War and holds a deep crush for his college-lover Martha. Jimmy carries many letters from Martha with him throughout the war, and he envisions this romantic illusion in which “more than anything, he want[s] Martha to love him as he love[s] her” (1). However, a conflict quickly transpires between his love for Martha and his responsibilities with the war, in which he is ultimately forced to make a decision between the two. Cross is forced to resolve this conflict by burning the “things” he carries that remind him of Martha in order to remain focused solely on the war. Similarly, in Redeployment, we are told the story of an American soldier named Sergeant Price and his journey returning home from the Iraq War. Many would assume that this would be a very peaceful and joyous reunion for Price and his family, however, several new struggles ensue for him instead. This is due to him becoming so accustomed to spending his life in the war that he can no longer comprehend what purpose and identity he holds removed from it. Given the severe monotony he was subjected to during the war, Price has now become just as prompt in making decisions at home as on the battlefield by no longer taking the time to “think” before acting. In fact, Price’s own dog named Vicar serves as a symbol to represent Price’s “civilian” mindset, which repeatedly conflicts with his “war” mindset until it is no longer bearable. Therefore, Price is force...


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...m. Also, the uncertainty of his life removed from the war is depicted when he refers to the state of Vicar’s body after being shot multiple times by expressing, “I stayed there staring at the sights for a while. Vicar was a blur of gray and black. The light was dimming. I couldn’t remember what I was going to do with the body” (16). This passage alludes to how much of a “blur” life has become for Price since leaving the war, as the things that were once important to his life such as Vicar are no longer “clear” to him by choosing the war over his humanity. In fact, instead of providing support for Price, Vicar only hinders him further. Even though the circumstances surrounding the relationships between Cross and Martha and Price and Vicar are substantially different, they both result in the same conclusion of the soldiers having to choose the war over their humanity.

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