The Things They Carried: Norman Bowker

Topics: Thing, Keith David, Soldier Pages: 3 (890 words) Published: March 6, 2014
Jeremey Hansen
Mrs. Smith
December 10, 2013
Honors English III
Norman Bowker

“You can't patch a wounded soul with a Band-Aid.” Within a war, there are two battles fought: the battle inside each individual soldier, and then what is actual done on the battlefield. These internal and external conflicts are equally detrimental, the only difference between the two is that when the physical engagement is over, the gruesome battle with in the soldiers remains. War leaves numerous mental scars on any person who takes part in it: regret, depression, anxiety, fear, or post-traumatic stress disorder. In the novel The Things They Carried, written by Tim O'Brien, the author paints a portrait in the readers mind of all the realities of the war atrocities. O'Brien tells a different short story each chapter about characters and all the struggles and difficult encounters they face. Each character carries three things during the war. The first thing the soldiers carry is the physical items necessary for survival: M-16, M-60, grenades, ammo, etc. The second thing they carry are personal items such as pebbles, comic books, girlfriend's pantyhose, etc. The final thing each soldier carries are the mental burdens of the war, figuratively the heaviest and worst thing to carry. Tim O'Brien uses the character Norman Bowker to display the emotional weight that the war puts on soldiers and soldier's inability to accept the past. In the chapter "Speaking of Courage," Norman Bowker grieves over how he did not win the Silver Star medal. It's not the physical medal that Norman is upset about not winning because he has won seven other medals prior to that. Norman is upset because of what the medal shows what Norman failed to do, save Kiowa. This guilt deteriorates Norman in a way that he can't express or tell anyone. Norman repeatedly drives around the lake in the town thinking about who would listen to his stories....
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