Tim O'Briens Mixed Messages

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Tim O’Brien has mixed messages from his book

At first glance “The Things They Carried” is a collection of stories consisting of similar underlying morals, themes and values. Although upon closer analysis it becomes apparent that many of the morals within the retellings contradict each other or exude mixed messages. The conflicting themes throughout the text involve morals vs. reputation, peace vs. war and pride vs. humility. “I would not be brave. That old image of myself as a hero, as a man of conscience and courage, all that was just a threadbare pipe dream.” The impasse reached by Tim O’Brien as mentioned in “On The Rainy River” was between his moral stance on the war and the preservation of his reputation. Rather than the blatantly obvious external conflict of the war this retelling emphasises the internal conflict and angst felt by the young men sentenced to fight in it. The personal battle mainly stems from the conflicting emotions of Tim O’Brien as if he stays true to his morals then he faces exiled, losing the respect of his parents or being subjected to ridicule. Whereas if he goes then he will be going against his own morals which are telling him to run for the sake of his family, his friends and most importantly, his sanity. “The younger monk used a yellow cloth to wipe dirt from a belt of ammunition.” The conflicting themes in “The Church” lie with the monks. The soldiers are confused when the monks decide to welcome them in with open arms even though the monks were fully aware of their objectives. Monks are known for their devotion to peace and soldiers are known for quite the opposite which sends mixed messages as to why people of peace would shelter the opposition and even clean their weapons and ammunition. “There was some pain, no doubt, but in the morning Curt Lemon was all smiles.” Although a short story, from “The Dentist” the importance of pride not only on the battlefield but amongst fellow soldiers is clearly exhibited. Curt Lemon...
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