The Things They Carried Essay

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Enrique Camacho-Moreno
American Literature
Museaus, Steve
Essay
The Red Badge of Courage, by Stephen Crane, and The Things They Carried, by Tim O’Brien, are two novels set a century apart, yet they both connect to one another. Tim O’Brien’s novel illustrates his experience in the Vietnam War, while Stephen Crane’s novel demonstrates his experience in the Civil War. These two novels focus on the image one gives himself while going into the war and image one gets going out of it, whether one makes it out alive or gets consumed by it.

In these two novels the concept of being a “coward” made a big factor in the way they say themselves. Both Henry Fleming from, The Red Badge of Courage, and Tim O’Brien from The Things They Carried, had a different reason for considering themselves a coward. Tim O’Brien was drafted to the Vietnam War, a war which he didn’t believe in, nor wanted to participate. He left everything behind and was on the verge of fleeing to Canada. He didn’t want to lose everything behind, his family, his friends, and his home. Tim wanted to be brave, leave everything and flee so he wouldn’t participate in the war, but that wasn’t the case. “I would go to the war---I would kill and maybe die---because I was embarrassed not to.” It wasn’t fear or morality that Tim had, he just couldn’t leave everything behind and flee. “I was a coward. I went to war.” In Henry’s case, he enlisted to the war. He wanted to be hero in this war, like he had always imagined. Soon he realized that all he was, was a pawn on a chess board. He was a mere soldier. Once things got tough in the second battle he was in, he fled. Henry couldn’t get the image of himself as a coward. All he was was a coward, for fleeing.

Henry had all this guilt inside him, for fleeing and lying about a fake battle scare he had got. When he finally regrouped with his squad they encountered a small battle. Trying to push back the enemy, soldier after soldier kept firing their rifle including...
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