The Things Thet Carried - Language Analysis

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AP English Language
21 September 2010
O’Brien’s Diction
The Things They Carried by Tim O’Brien is a historical fiction novel that presents a variety of anecdotes and dialogues exposing the reality and impact of the Vietnam War. The stories of several characters let the readers understand the wide impact of the war. O’Brien presents all these stories by the use of dialogue, and he does this successfully by maneuvering his diction. By the use of slang, soldier jargon, and vulgar language the author is able to manipulate his diction to simplify the reading, to connect fiction with reality, and to establish a distinction between characters.

O’Brien often uses informal diction presenting slang during dialogues with the purpose of simplifying the reading and bringing the reality of soldier communication. The use of common slang makes the readers relate to the wording and understand the story more easily. For example, instead of using complex verbs, the author exposes common slang words that many know, “to shoo them away” (O’Brien 138). In another case, the author mentions “riding shotgun” (139) meaning riding in the co-pilot seat of a car. This common slang not only makes the reading easier, it also allows readers to identify with it. In addition, the display of slang brings the readers to an almost real setting which interests them. Even though this is fictional, the slang allows readers to grasp military reality by showing how most soldiers communicate. For instance, as expected in soldiers, most replace formal communication with slang, “‘a good long bull session, you know?’” (150). Finally, O’Brien’s technique of including slang in his diction makes the reading easier and closer to reality.

Like slang, soldier jargon aids in the creation of a believable plot that submerges readers into the novel. O’Brien constantly brings military terms most of which are acronyms used by professional soldiers. For example, “it was SOP for each man to carry a steel-centered,...
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