Literary Devices Used In The Things They Carried
By: Tom Vennemann
The Things They Carried by Tim O'Brien expresses the importance of a story-truth, as opposed to a happening-truth by use of literary elements in his writing. The novel is about war and the guilt it leaves on everyone involved in the war. Story-truth is not exactly what happened, but uses part of the truth and part made up in order to express the truth of what emotion was felt, which an important thematic element in the novel is. The three literary devices he uses to express this are diction, imagery, juxtaposition, and hyperbole. All of these elements allow the reader to identify emotion that is expressed in each story, as though that were the complete truth. O'Brien's diction is descriptive. It is important to analyze O'Brien's use of diction because he describes events in more emotional ways to express his feelings at the time if the event. His reason for using stories is because he urges the reader to feel what he felt. For example, in the story Good Form, O'Brien expresses why he tells stories. "What stories can do, I guess, is make things present. I can look at things I never looked at. I can attach faces to grief and love and pity and God. I can be brave. I can make myself feel again." (180) O’Brien’s statement tells how his emotions can be expressed by make believe stories or story-truths. In order to make a story important, he must show the reader what he felt by describing the event in such a way that makes the reader feel like the action is right in their face. Juxtaposition is able to show story truth importance by explaining how similar story-truth and happening-truth are in any story. He explains how in a happening-truth that “(t)here were many bodies, real bodies with real faces, but I was young then and I was afraid to look.” (180) Then he explains the story-truth as though he were still there. “He was a slim, dead, almost dainty young man about twenty.” (180) He puts these...
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