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Throughout The Things They Carried, OBrien uses many different messages to get his story across. Guilt and blame show up quite often during the book.

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Introduction

Lexy Zaddack AP English Hour 7 Guilt and Blame Throughout The Things They Carried, O'Brien uses many different messages to get his story across. Guilt and blame show up quite often during the book. He uses these ideas to explain how the characters feel and what they are going through. All of the characters, at some point in the story, are haunted by guilt from previous incidents and try to find something to blame it on. When one of the men sees a comrade fall, he feels like there could have been something he could have changed. Each soldier seems to take some part of the blame and feels terrible when another soldier is killed. It is like losing a family member, not just a soldier. ...read more.

Middle

Though he is the leader of the platoon, he is unable to control everything the men do. When a man died, there had to be blame. Jimmy Cross understood this. You could blame the war... A moment of carelessness or bad judgment or plain stupidity carried consequences that lasted forever. (177) Lieutenant Jimmy Cross blames himself for the death of Kiowa. He considers all the things the can be blamed for this - the war, voters, the rain, etc. However, he blames himself intensely, while the blame is quite universal. Unfortunately, Jimmy Cross chose to camp out on the field even though the Vietnamese women warned him. He, in fact, is part of the reason for Kiowa's death. Tim O'Brien's character also shows an intense amount of emotion. ...read more.

Conclusion

He goes into detail about how he turned on the flashlight to show Kiowa a picture of his girlfriend and everything started to go crazy. Overall, it was a mistake for O'Brien to turn the flashlight on and give away their position. However, he cannot blame himself for everything. "Ten billion places we could've set up last night, the man picks a latrine." (166) Later we heard that Strunk died somewhere over Chu Lai, which seemed to relieve Dave Jensen of an enormous weight. (66) "Jimmy Cross did not want the responsibility of leading these men. He has never wanted it." (167) There were many bodies, real bodies with real faces, but I was young then and I was afraid to look. And now, twenty years later, I'm left with faceless responsibility and faceless grief. (180) USE SHMOOP FOR THEME INFO ...read more.

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