The Things They Carried (War)

Topics: Vietnam, Vietnam War, Army Pages: 2 (618 words) Published: March 25, 2014

Mr. Willions
26 May 2011
Final Essay #7
The most emotional part of war is the amount of death that soldiers encounter. During the Vietnam War, soldiers saw their brothers and enemies getting violently killed every day. Before war, the soldiers had never been around so much death and destruction. In the novel The Things They Carried, the narrator focuses on important deaths and analyzes them from different points of view. A death is a huge event, and not something that can be classified as an absolute. The way you view a death one day can be vastly different from the way you see it tomorrow. This is especially the case when the death is extremely graphic, such as the deaths of Kiowa and the young Vietnamese boy who O’Brien killed. These deaths have a way of staying in the minds of the soldiers. O’Brien provides multiple versions of these deaths because they better strengthen the meaning of the deaths and the theme of coping with difficult times.

For Tim O’Brien, the most vivid memory he has is of the man he killed in Vietnam. You can tell by the way he described the corpse in detail using phrases such as “his jaw was in his throat… the skin at his left cheek was peeled back in three ragged strips” (O’Brien 124). It is one thing to see death and gore all around you, but it is quite another to actually take a human life. Some people accept it, some hate themselves for it, and some never get over it. There are plenty of people to blame besides yourself when you kill somebody. However, when it comes down to it, killing (even in war) is murder. O’Brien dwells on the death of this young Vietnamese boy and mentions it several other times saying “I killed him… He was a slim, dead, almost dainty young man of about twenty” (O’Brien 180). It seems that O’Brien is either dwelling in the past, or discussing it in a different way to get his point across that death is a confusing event that can’t be pinned down or understood.

Kiowa’s death probably affected...
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