The Things They Carried By Tim O Brien: Literary Analysis

Topics: World War II, World War I, War Pages: 3 (641 words) Published: July 24, 2016


The Things They Carried by Tim O'Brien uses narratives to evoke various thoughts within the reader. Yet Mary Anne Bell's story is a cautionary tale of the influence the battlefield has on a person. One of the medics, Mark Fossie, decides to bring his high school sweetheart right into the war, not comprehending the cost of his action. The war turns innocent, naïve soldiers into brutal, desensitized killers; Mary Anne being no exception. Her tale illustrates how the war physically and mentally alters those who endure it, no matter his or her gender.
Initially, Mary Anne embodies femininity with her vibrant personality, culottes, pink sweater, and cosmetic bag. However, as she spends more time at the compound, her priorities begin to change....

"She was a girl, that's all. I mean, if it was a guy, everybody'd say, Hey, no big deal, he got caught up in the Nam shit, he got seduced by the Greenies. See what I mean? You go these blinders on about women," Rat Kiley points out on page 107. No one can escape the grips of war intact; they will always lose some part of themselves. Nevertheless, Mary Anne discovers herself among intensity of the battle. She divulges on page 111, "I know exactly who I am. You can't feel like that anywhere else." It envelops her until she is no longer recognizable. In the end, Mary Anne Bell becomes a part of the war itself.
In conclusion, O'Brien utilizes the story of Mary Anne Bell to depict the effects the war has on those fighting, regardless of gender. Like her male counterparts, she undergoes a radical transformation because of her sickening experiences. The Vietnam War dehumanizes its victims into animal-like creatures with an appetite for death. In the case of Mary Anne, she initially is a very attractive, young, and innocent girl, but as time goes on, she turns into a ravenous murderer. The war does not care about whether one is female or male; instead, it feeds off the soldier's unquenchable desire for the enemy's...
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