An Analysis of Tim O'Brien's The Things They Carried

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  • Topic: Shame, Embarrassment, Blushing
  • Pages : 3 (895 words )
  • Download(s) : 19
  • Published : November 7, 2009
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How does shame fit into O’Brien’s Portrayal of the war experience?
The war experience can carry a lot of shame for a soldier. Tim O’Brien portrays it very well in his book “The Things They Carried.” There are many ways shame can show itself during war although you wouldn’t think so since they are serving our country. It drives them to do things that they wish they had not. O’Brien really brings all of the possible shameful acts to the reader’s attention.

Shame is the reason that Tim O’Brien decided to go to Vietnam. Many of the characters feel shame as a primary motivator, too. Not only does it lead them to war, but it keeps them there. It is the one thing that keeps them from shooting themselves in the foot so that they would be discharged from the army or some similar such act. But some characters, like Curt Lemon, think that shame impels them to heroism, not stupidity.

One of the more recognizable shameful acts included Lt. Cross. Cross was the leader of his troops though he did not act like it sometimes. He neglected to step up and lead his men in many situations when they needed him the most. The cause of his neglect came from his obsession with a girl back home. Her name is Martha and she sends him several letters during his time in Vietnam. However Martha is not obsessed with Cross like he is with her. The letters she sends him are more friendly than romantic, but he thinks he is in love with her. It takes the death of his comrade Lavender for him to realize his mistake. He has focused on Martha so much that he failed to lead his troops. Lavender’s death triggers an epiphany and makes him realize he must give all of his focus to his men. After all is said and done he will always be ashamed for thinking about Martha so much. Also he will always feel slightly responsible for Lavender’s death.

Another example of shame is shown by all of the soldiers. The group of men all participated in burning down an entire village. The reason for such an act was...
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