stylistic analysis of The Things They Carried
Topics: Fiction, Irony, Phrase, Army, Word, Vietnam War / Pages: 9 (2752 words) / Published: Jun 8th, 2014

Exercise 1 The Things They Carried
EXCERPT ①
1. How is the term common secret typical of the phrasing of this whole passage? How is run or freeze or hide also typical of the excerpt's phrasing? In which sentences does O'Brien's phrasing seem especially clear, direct, and simple, and why is such phrasing so effective? How would you describe the tone of this passage? How might the tone easily have been quite different? For instance, how could it have been highly emotional and melodramatic? Why do you think O'Brien chose to avoid that kind of tone?
One of the most significant features of the phrasing is conciseness. As a reader first time reading this book, I seldom find it difficult to understand the words or sentences, because the author uses common words and simple sentence structures. The excerpt starts with anaphora. Almost every sentence begins with “they”, followed by a transitive verb and then the object. In addition, the author express his thoughts and feelings straightforwardly. He rarely uses very long and complex modifiers or symbolic images which are hard for readers to dig out the real meaning. He just use the third-person point of view to describe the soldiers’ action and emotion directly, which makes readers feel like living with them and share their fear in the war. Another apparent feature of the phrasing is parataxis. For example, “run or freeze or hide” has three monosyllabic verbs and two conjunction “or”. Conjunction “and” is also frequently used to arrange the words and phrases in coordinate. The sentence “Go limp and tumble to the ground and let the muscles unwind and not speak and not budge until your buddies picked you up and lifted you into the chopper that would roar and dip its nose and carry you off to the world” largely reveal the O’Brien’s phrasing style. Seven “and” is used in this sentence! Each of the several parts is simply and brief, but they have profound meaning as a whole. This kind of phrasing perfectly suits the

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