The Things They Carried

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The Things They Carried

By | April 2008
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Tim O’Brien’s The Things They Carried is a very uniquely written book. This book is comprised of countless stories that, though are out of order, intertwine and capture the reader’s attention through the end of the novel. This book, which is more a collection of short stories rather than one story that has a beginning and an end, uses a format that will keep the reader coming back for more.

Typically, a novel contains four basic parts: a beginning, middle, climax, and the end. The beginning sets the tone for the book and introduces the reader to the characters and the setting. The majority of the novel comes from middle where the plot takes place. The plot is what usually captures the reader’s attention and allows the reader to become mentally involved. Next, is the climax of the story. This is the point in the book where everything comes together and the reader’s attention is at the fullest. Finally, there is the end. In the end of a book, the reader is typically left asking no questions, and satisfied with the outcome of the previous events. However, in the novel The Things They Carried the setup of the book is quite different. This book is written in a genre of literature called “metafiction.” “Metafiction” is a term given to fictional story in which the author makes the reader question what is fiction and what is reality. This is very important in the setup of the Tim’s writing because it forces the reader to draw his or her own conclusion about the story. However, this is not one story at all; instead, O’Brien writes the book as if each chapter were its own short story. Although all the chapters have relation to one another, when reading the book, the reader is compelled to keep reading. It is almost as if the reader is listening to a “soldier storyteller” over a long period of time. Another unique aspect to this book is the constant change in point of view. This change in point of view emphasizes the disorder associated with war. At...
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