The Things They Carried Essay

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In The Things They Carried by Tim O’Brien, O’Brien describes his personal experience in the Vietnam War. His experiences reflect many of his characters personal experiences. For the Vietnam War was one of the most gruesome wars ever fought by American Troops since the Civil War. Many of the long term effects of the war are still felt by are soldiers today.

“They carried the soldier’s greatest fear, which was the fear of blushing. Men killed, and died, because they were embarrassed not to. It was what had brought them to the war in the first place, nothing positive, no dreams of glory or honor, just to avoid the blush of dishonor. They died so as not to die of embarrassment.” This quotation from the story is part of a longer passage about the emotional baggage of men at risk of dying. According to O’Brien many men do not want to go to war. But in order to save their reputations as men many men will go to war instead of staying at home and being viewed as a coward.

He was a slim, dead, almost dainty young man of about twenty. He lay with one leg bent beneath him, his jaw in his throat, his face neither expressive nor inexpressive. One eye was shut. The other was a star-shaped hole. This quotation, from “The Man I Killed,” describes the corpse of a young Vietnamese soldier whom O’Brien killed with a grenade. Many Americans during the war experienced a lot of the same horrific moments. Which they would later have to cope with during and after the war. This would later be called Post Traumatic Stress Disorder. The drive of this piece is to show the effect of the deaths of those considered to be the “enemy ‘on those involved in the war. War is not indiscriminate hate but indiscriminate killing and O ‘Brien condemns these violent acts through their words.

I’d come to this war a quiet, thoughtful sort of person, a college grad, Phi Beta Kappa and summa cum laude, all the credentials, but after seven months in the bush I realized that those high, civilized...
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