The Things They Carried
The story “The Ghost Soldiers” is one of the only stories of “The Things They Carried” in which we don’t know the ending in advance. I believe that O’Brien chooses to make this story particularly suspenseful in order for the reader to understand the meaning of the ending and recognize that the ending is not easily predicted. This allows for a more interesting and surprising story.
Throughout the story, O’Brien mentions his longing for revenge on Jorgenson who was a medic that tried to help heal a gunshot wound. His main reason for wanting to seek revenge on Jorgenson was due to the fact that he caused him a lot of pain since he was unable to subdue his shock from his wound and caused him to suffer from gangrene. O’Brien eventually follows through with his vow to seek revenge on Jorgenson along with an accomplice, Azar. The two men torment Jorgenson, while he is serving an all night duty. They do this by lighting flares and moving sandbags in a bush. O’Brien feels as though he can relate to the trouble felt by Jorgenson and decides that he has evoked enough revenge. However, Azar wanted to continue until Jorgenson discovered that they were the source of his torture and he left O’Brien after calling him pathetic. Jorgenson and O’Brien reconcile and come to terms with each other and decide that they are even.
The ending of the story is particularly surprising because most readers would predict an opposing outcome. I think O’Brien wanted the course of the story to be left to suspense to show that negative events can have positive outcomes. Also, by adding suspense to the story, readers will remain interested and continue reading to determine the outcome of the story.