The Man Killed, the Things They Carried

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In the story “The Man Killed” By Tim O’Brien, the narrator stares in silence at the man he has just murdered. He imagines all sorts of things and describes every part of him, from the blood running out of his wounds to his dainty long fingers. He, then starts telling us about his life and visualizes his past, present and future. The narrator envisions this man of My Khe as a scholar, not a fighter; he believes he is someone who went to war only to fulfill his patriotic duty. During this whole time, O’Brien never really speaks, and the silent is broken by two of O’Brien’s fellow soldiers. First Azar speaks, his apathetic ways are much too cruel, since he compares the soldier to shredded cereal, this also shows he feels pleasure from the man’s death. The second voice is from Kiowa, who in fact sympathizes wit O’Brien but still urges him to move on and tries to make him see that the young soldier’s death was necessary, because if he hadn’t killed him, O’Brien would have been the one laying on the ground lifeless.

While the body lays on the ground, O’Brien’s guilt has him fixated on the life of the victim, that his own presence in the story becomes to a certain extend, unimportant. He pictures his victim’s whole life, and imagines he was a young student that had just entered the university in Saigon in 1964, avoided politics, didn’t like to fight, and just hoped the Americans would go away. Though out the whole story, O’Brien both, consolidates and tortures himself, by picturing the life of this young dead soldier. He imagines it in such a way, that the Vietnamese soldier ends up being very similar to himself, and by relating to his victim this way, O’Brien grapples with and tries to understand the unpredictability of his own mortality, and is better aware of the horrible nature of the killing. He contemplates the fact of life and death. How the death of this poor soldier will not change one thing and life will go on, leaving him in the past, making his...
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