Tim O'Brien Research Paper

Topics: Short story, Fiction, Vietnam War Pages: 5 (1720 words) Published: November 13, 2012
Eyes of a Soldier
Due to the rise of reform and fear of communism undulating throughout the United States during the 1960’s, Americans had gradually begun to transition from traditional values. Unequal rights had finally come to a conclusion legally and the voice of young Americans grew audaciously. At that time war also plagued the nation with polarization as result of media exploitation and political corruption. The young Americans spoke out against the miserable Vietnam War that had drafted numerous American men into both a violent and ambiguous battle against a foreign third world country. Also a young American, the veteran, Tim O’Brien elaborated much of his experience in the Vietnam War through his short stories. Mr. O’Brien illustrated in words his side as a surviving American soldier who trudged through a war he also disfavored.

Significant experiences from Tim O’Brien’s past had influenced him into a writing career. Born the first of October in 1946, the author grew up far away from the urban cities in a rural town of Minnesota called Worthington. The highly celebrated occasion, ‘Turkey Day’, was a local tradition that first sparked the taste for writing during his childhood (Shuman 1120). Just as an annual trip to the carnival may inspire some artistic children at an early age, this event greatly opened his imagination. It wasn’t until after his graduation from Malacaster College in 1968, that his draft into war ignited his drive to write (Williams 1790). At this point during the revolutionary sixties, society began to see a new trend in literature as seen from O’Brien. This new trend became as vivid and engaging as the time of the Gilded Age in America regarding the birth of realism and local color. War, which had been seen plenty throughout the century, tended to provoke those effected by expressing themselves. For some there may have been those who painted out their feelings regarding the lingering impact of war. For those who were severely compressed by combat, unhealthy behaviors may have developed as a result. However, O’Brien found his sanction through writing literature based primarily on the Vietnam War and following in the footsteps of famous war writers such as Ernest Hemingway and Joseph Heller (1792). From such works as Going after Cacciato to his famous The Things They Carried, he vividly illustrated to the world the emotional and physical struggle young conscripts like him faced in the war (1793).

The short story The Things They Carried uses a great deal of symbolism in order to express the voice of young soldiers. After opening up about a platoon leader’s infatuation to a college girl back home, the story goes into a list regarding the physical equipment and necessities each man must lug along. O’Brien uses this kind of symbolism to indirectly reveal to readers a message and link to the fresh thoughts and feelings of the soldiers as they continue embarking on their mission. During a war soldiers tend to take with them items from home in lieu of a security blanket: . . . and Dave Jensen carried three pairs of socks and a can of Dr. Scholl's foot powder as a precaution against trench foot. Until he was shot, Ted Lavender carried six or seven ounces of premium dope, which for him was necessity. Mitchell Sanders, the RT0, carried condoms. Norman Bowker carried a diary. Rat Kiley carried comic books. Kiowa, a devout Baptist, Carried an illustrated New Testament that had been presented to him by his father . . . (O’Brien 1) O’Brien points out various items carried by soldiers in which symbolize their link back home and offer a way of coping through the vile jungles of Vietnam. Readers can also easily perceive the type of person these soldiers are when stripped of their military status and attire. However, it can be seen that such a close attachment to these personal items in the condition of war can lead to poor and regrettable outcomes as seen in The Things They Carried after negligence from...
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