The Things They Carried

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The Things They Carried
Tim O’Brien writes a collection of short stories that form the novel The Things They Carried. This novel is very affective in exploring the social issue of war. Throughout the novel the reader experiences the horror stories of war. The awfulness of these tales causes the reader to inquire whether war is really worth the sacrifices that soldiers are forced to make. By using narration, symbols, and imagery, O’Brien focuses on the meaning and purpose of war in this short but meaningful book.

The element that O’Brien applies perhaps the most affectively is that of narration. His style is unique in that he often relates to the reader stories that were told to him. In this sense it is often a third person narrator telling the story of a first person narrator. From this style of narration we the readers get the opinions of two people often coming through. Tim O’Brien displays this when he tells us the story of Rat Kiley. He did not actually witness when Kiley shot himself in the foot, but rather heard about it from others. This causes the reader to call into question the reliability of the story. But moreover, through this story we are shown the toll that war takes on Rat Kiley. The misery of Vietnam causes Kiley to shoot himself in the foot to attempt to escape to a hospital. Yes, it is possible because of the multiple transfers of the story that it is not 100% accurate, but either way the reader can see O’Brien’s message in telling us this event; war can cause people to go insane and do things that are out of the ordinary in order to escape.

O’Brien also uses repetition throughout the novel. The reader sometimes finds himself or herself confused because the author reverts back to stories he has already told. This is however an affective literary tool. The stories that O’Brien repeats, such as the death of his friend Kiowa, help to make their importance much more apparent to the reader. Kiowa is one of the people that O’Brien is the...
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