The Things They Carried

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Parth Verma
ENGH 201
Seward
2/27/2013
Essay 1: The Things They Carried
If you went to war would you have the courage, the strength, the morality or lack thereof to kill someone? To kill someone you didn’t even know, someone who had done no harm to you? Tim O’Brian’s “The Things They Carried” is about a young man who faces the struggles and hardships of going off to war. But this isn’t your normal war story about acts of valor and happy endings. Instead, this emotional book takes us on a journey through the lives of the soldiers in the Alpha Company as they fight their way through the swamps and lily pads of Vietnam. In the short story “The Man I Killed,” O’Brian portrays the cruelty and loss of morality that comes with going to war along with a certain type of masculinity that is needed to be a successful solider. He also uses particular story telling techniques that we will discuss in this essays to further convey his message that war is something unexplainable to the untrained eye.

Being a solider for any nation is one of the most difficult occupations a person can do in their life time. It requires a particular hardiness and toughness that most people can’t find in themselves. It calls for the ability to face the cruelest of images and ideas while still keeping a sane mind. The environment that O’Brian was in was one of unending chaos and constant death. After being in the war for so long and seeing the deaths of countless Vietnamese civilians, O’Brian should have been accustomed to seeing dead men. Yet, he is still powerfully effected by the young man he “fuckin’ trashed” (O’Brian 119), who belonged to the communist group. After O’Brian killed the young man, he described him in the most gruesome manner “his neck was open to the spinal cord and the blood there was thick and shiny…” (O’Brian 118). The killing of the Vietnamese solider lingers and is almost trapped in O'Brien's mind for eternity. He vividly remembers the most minuet details “his jaw in...
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