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In this story "The Things They Carried," author Tim O'Brien, a Vietnam Veteran, gives a glimpse of the internal turmoil that soldiers face in warfare. His experience in this war allows him to convey realistic situations

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Introduction

Amber Western 1 Eng 240 6980 Professor Matthews Feb 27, 2006 The Things They Carried "They were tough. They carried all the emotional baggage of men who might die...They carried shameful memories. They carried the common secret of cowardice barely restrained... They carried their reputations. They carried the soldier's greatest fear-fear of blushing" (O'Brien, 532). This quote defines the emotional burdens and turmoil soldiers truly carry during war. In this story "The Things They Carried," author Tim O'Brien, a Vietnam Veteran, gives a glimpse of the internal turmoil that soldiers face in warfare. His experience in this war allows him to convey realistic situations and insights only survivors are acquainted with. Tim O'Brien understands what is necessary to tell a true war story. He conveys the reality of war by immersing readers into internal conflicts, the fears, and the losses these soldiers experience. O'Brien's use of point of view and symbolism makes it possible to achieve insight into these experiences. It is imperative to focus on the point of view and the symbolism to grasp the true meaning of this story. To begin, this story is told in third person perspective. The narrator, who is not a character in the story, is the storyteller. It is also editorial omniscience in that the narrator dictates the story but also places judgments upon the characters. ...read more.

Middle

As Jill Taft-Kaufman explains, "the novel is about how storytelling affects teller and listener... draws the audience into an exploration of how the mind shapes experience in order to deal with death and loss, particularly in war" (20). This is an important aspect of this story to envision, O'Brien, as the narrator. The background and experiences of the author validates the feelings and emotions of these characters. It personifies these characters and allows the readers to live in the reality composed by author Tim O'Brien. As Taft-Kaufman puts it, "it would be crucial for the audience to recognize immediately that all the characters emerge from the narrator's mind as he struggles with the past" (19). These emotions and feelings that reside in Lt. Cross originate from the experiences of Tim O'Brien. This use of point of view gives insight into the thoughts and feeling of those inflicted by the trauma of war. Moreover, it allows readers to experience the transformations of internal conflicts through the developments of defense mechanisms necessary for survival. The point of view by the author establishes the conflicts, however, it is equally important to identify the symbols and interpret their underlying meanings. Symbolism is the key to understanding these conflicts and surfacing the underlying meanings. ...read more.

Conclusion

Jill Taft-Kaufman notes the importance of these men, "to keep their feelings of vulnerability in check in order to carry on" (21). O'Brien makes it very apparent that creating defense mechanisms is essential to remain emotionally intact in combat. All in all, the symbolisms throughout, "The Things They Carried," directly reflects the emotional burdens, loss of innocence, and defense mechanisms that truly weight upon these men's shoulders. This story doesn't focus necessarily on the bombs and physical aspects of war. This story focuses on the men that fight it. They fight this war by physical means, but more importantly the battles within themselves. O'Brien allows the readers to obtain a small glimpse into what it really takes to survive war. He does this by selecting a point of view that allows readers to feel the heartaches, and internal struggles that soldiers confront in war. Ounces, pounds, or rounds do not measure internal and emotional burdens these men carry. Instead "they all carried ghosts," these ghosts are the true weight they carried (526). The ghosts of lost innocence, of cowardice, of fallen soldiers, and of those they killed are what haunt these men. The use of symbolism uncovers these underlying struggles and shows the defense mechanisms essential to split from the evils of war. Most importantly the emphasis on point of view and symbolism of this story is the catalyst to capture the theme. ...read more.

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