The Things They Carried Essay

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An Abstract Truth
The creation of a story is similar to that of a painting. Reality is the canvas in which the artist creates his work from, something to base his truth off of and truth is represented by the paint that is used to create the story, in the hands of the artist who can form these into new shapes and cloak the original identity of the truth. The story is the finished painting, now masked with truths that have been skewed by the artist and left to the viewer to interpret. While the paints are now swirled and twisted into colors that may hide the original truth, the board does not change shape and the only thing that really changes is how it is perceived by others. A painting can be interpreted in many different ways but the original truth will always be there. The connection between reality and truth as presented in Tim O’Brien’s post-modern novel The Things They Carried is that the truth of things is abstract and is determined by what we say about things and often what we say about things determines the way we think about truth.

In the chapter “On the Rainy River,” the narrator says “I feared losing the respect of my parents. I feared the law. I feared ridicule and censure.” (O’Brien 45) O’Brien is describing the fear and guilt many young men faced when going into the war and how most young men were pressured into the joining army.

In the chapter “The Sweetheart of Song Tra Bong,” Mark Fossie brings his girlfriend over to Vietnam to his base where, according to Rat Kiley, “…partly [because of] terror. Partly [because of] rapture…” (O’Brien 105) she becomes obsessed with the thrill of killing, symbolizing the transformation of soldiers who are warped into murderers. •In the chapter “In the Field,” three soldiers blame themselves for the death of Kiowa, for reasons such as Jimmy Cross’, “he knew for a fact he had made a mistake setting up here” (O’Brien 166), representing the soldiers who suffered from survivor’s guilt, none of these...
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