An Essay Drawing Connections Between The Vietnam War And The Fictional Novel Of "The Things They Carried".

2153 words - 9 pages

Emotions of War: Parallels Between "The Things They Carried" and the real VietnamWar is like fog, it moves to and fro, it comes as a slow moving loom and leaves like a flash; as it dissipates it leaves behind dampness. If the fog is war then the dampness is the emotions; that is the residual affects of war. The emotions are things that stick to everyone "In war, there are no unwounded soldiers (Narosky)". In war there will always be someone who feels guilt someone who feels anger, someone who feels detached depression and someone who feels all that and more as was in "The Things They Carried" as it is in real war. When wars are fought human beings cannot help themselves but to carry emotions, to feel is to be human to feel the guilt of the error of our ways to none to the least human.Everyone does things that make them feel guilty and shameful. We all do it though we don't like to admit to it. Guilt in the Webster's Dictionary is defined as remorseful awareness of having done something wrong and shame defined as a painful emotion caused by a strong sense of guilt. In the book The Things They Carried by Tim O'Brien each character carried a certain amount of guilt and shame with them. Most of this burden fell upon the leader Jimmy Cross. As the leader of the platoon Jimmy had to look after the well being of his men. Throughout the book his fails on several instances such as when Ted Lavender dies. At this point in the book Cross has an epiphany that the death of his man was due to his lack of concentration and leadership, "On that morning after Ted Lavender dies, First Lieutenant Jimmy Cross finally realizes his duty crouched at the bottom of his foxhole and burned Martha's letters. Then he burned the two photographs. There was a steady rain falling, which made it difficult, but he used heat tabs and Sterno to build a small fire screening it with his body holding the photographs over the tight blue flame with the tips of his fingers (O'Brien 17). " This excerpt from the book shows a distraught First Lieutenant contemplating the death of that he was thinking about his girlfriend Martha instead of Lavender's safety. He describes his guilt as something he will have to "carry in his stomach for the rest of the war (O'Brien 6)."Through out the plot Tim O'Brien shows many instances of guilt on the battle field, the story like a rotary takes trips back and forth, through time to before the war began for each character. Tim O'Brien describes his own experiences as he perceives them in retrospect. In one instance he finds himself running away from being drafted believing that he should have the choice if he should fight or not, this is a major contrast with the people of his town who have a proud history with serving their country. As Tim O'Brien heads toward the Canadian border he feels a surge of shame and guilt "My conscience told me to run, but some irrational and powerful force was resisting, like a weight pushing me toward the war. What it came down...

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