The Things They Carried Essay

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Samantha Schulz

Mrs. Nilles

English 12-5

05 November 2012

O’Brien’s Theme of Rejection and Disconnect

Why does O’Brien use the theme of rejection to convey his experience in war? In the book, The Things They Carried, Tim O’Brien writes about his experience in the Vietnam War. He uses many themes to show how the war has changed the soldiers and how the citizens perceive the war. Throughout the book, he uses the theme of rejection to show the disconnection between the soldiers at war and the citizens at home. O’Brien defines the relationship among the soldiers from the beginning of war to the end. He shows the struggle and hardship of returning to everyday life and the acceptance of society. Rejection is a reoccurring theme that O’Brien uses, it helps the reader understand what went on in the war and the way societies’ views the war.

The disconnection between the soldiers at war and the citizens at home is the most important example of rejection that O’Brien uses to further explain his experience in war. O’Brien begins to talk about a true war story and how it makes the stomach believe. He says that Curt Lemon stepped on a booby-trap while playing with Rat Kiley and instantly died.

Curt Lemon was dead. Rat Kiley had lost his best friend in the world. Later in the week he would write a long personal letter to the guy’s sister, who would not write back, but for now it was a question of pain. (79)

This quote is a great example of how citizens at home do not understand and respond well to the soldiers at war. Rat Kiley had put a lot of thought into the letter he sent to Curt Lemon’s sister explaining what had happened and how great Curt Lemon was. Curt Lemon’s sister not writing back shows the disconnect between her and the soldiers and how she does not support the war.

O’Brien also uses the relationship among the soldiers from the beginning of war to the end to explain the theme of rejection throughout the book. One important example...
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