Literature and Composition
The Heavy Burden of Memories
The Things They Carried by Tim O’Brien and The Road by Cormac McCarthy both deal with the profound affects that memories have upon the actions and understandings of men. In both novels memories weigh heavily on the main characters’ souls, but each man carries that burden differently. The results may vary but the impact of what has happened and what is remembered changes their perspectives and ultimately leads to a unique ending for each man. Do the memories that are carried shape or change the people involved and the understanding of the certain situations? In the novel The Things They Carried Tim O’Brien not only carries his memories from home and at war, but also he carries the stories from all the men who fought beside him. Tim has many stories throughout the book that directly link to his own problems and memories from before, during, and after the war. Just reading the emotions in each story shows how much Tim has struggled with scars and memories of everyone he has listened to. He states, “the thing about remembering is that you don’t forget” (O 'Brien 33). Remembering becomes a responsibility and a duty to hold and share even if the rest of the world does not want to hear. Tim O’Brien recoils when he receives his draft notice in the mail. He is shocked and believes that he is too smart and young to go to war. Before the war he would spend many nights driving around, thinking: “about the war and the pig factory and how my life seemed to be collapsing toward slaughter. I felt paralyzed. All around me the options seemed to be narrowing, as if I were hurtling down a huge black funnel, the whole world squeezing in tight” (O 'Brien 41). This is a very difficult time in Tim’s life and he begins questioning everything. He almost flees to Canada and leaves his family, friends, and home to escape the draft. This shows how someone is willing to change his life so that he
Cited: McCarthy, Cormac. The Road. NY: Vintage, 2006. Print. O’Brien, Tim. The Things They Carried. Boston: Houghton Mifflin, 1990. Print.