Tim O’Brien compiles a series of incredibly confronting stories, which explore the depths of just how horrific the Vietnam War was, as well as creating new viewpoints on already conventional ideas. “The things they carried” uses verisimilitude to more accurately tell the stories of what occurred in Vietnam. The ideas of war, death and gender are given a significant alteration to how they are perceived.
War has many common associations such as there is a winner or a distinct purpose, however Vietnam created a war with no purpose and no moral. The men within the war were faced with the challenge of no apparent purpose, which proved to be incredibly challenging. Soldiers became desperate in attempts to find replacements for their seemingly purposeless mission within Vietnam. Activities such as playing checkers gave the soldiers a sense of purpose they were so desperately craving. “There were red checkers and black checkers. The playing field was laid out in a strict grid, no tunnels or mountains or jungles. You knew where you stood. You knew the score. The pieces were out on the board, the enemy was visible, you could watch the tactics unfolding into larger strategies. There was a winner and a loser. There were rules.” The game of checkers bares all of the common associations of war such as ‘the enemy’ or ‘rules’ and creates a direct contrast between the stereotype of war and what actually occurred within the Vietnam War as explained within the chapter ‘How to tell a true war story’. “A true war story is never moral. It does not instruct, nor encourage virtue, nor suggest models of proper human behaviour, nor restrain men from doing the things men have always done” The portrayal of war within “The things they carried” is very unique as it exposes the boring, endless and repetitive nature of war.
Tim O’Brien reveals the use of ambiguous morality within the soldiers as a solution to dealing with death. As the brutal murder of innocent people can’t be explained,...
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