The Dirtiness Of War An In Depth Look Of "The Things They Carried."

1171 words - 5 pages

In "Sweetheart of the Song Tra Bong", O'Brien uses the story of Mary Anne Bell to illustrate the transformation of young, innocent, naive boys who go off to war and often return as calloused men. Her story, as told by Rat Kiley of Alpha Company, symbolizes the experiences that befall young soldiers who leave a comfortable life at home and begin a journey into the unknown. They arrive in Vietnam innocent and "clean" and are seduced by the "dirty" terror of war and are ultimately transformed, in varying degrees, into someone else. Rat is prone to exaggeration, but he insists this story is absolutely true.In this story, Rat was assigned to a small medical detachment when he first arrived in Vietnam, overlooking a river called the Song Tra Bong. The unit had eight other medics (no officers) and they provided basic emergency and trauma care to casualties brought in by helicopter. Also, within the compound were six Green Berets who stayed to themselves but nevertheless play a crucial role in the story. Because the compound was isolated and never attacked, the soldiers spend their time playing cards and volleyball, drinking beer, and talking about cars, baseball, and girls. One young medic, Mark Fossie, had the idea of bringing his girlfriend, Mary Anne, to the compound from his hometown of Cleveland Heights. After complicated logistics and much expense, Mary Anne arrived six weeks later on the re-supply chopper, "tired and somewhat lost" (pg 94), as most new recruits appear. She was "clean" and innocent, "this seventeen-year old doll in her goddam culottes, perky and fresh-faced, like a cheerleader visiting the opposing teams' locker room. Her pretty blue eyes seemed to glow." (pg. 96) In the beginning, Mary Anne stayed close to Mark, wanting to take in everything around her, but not aware of the true danger. By the end of her second week, she was helping with the casualties, not afraid to get her hands bloody, and was less interested in her appearance. She became a different person. Her survival skills took over. She stopped wearing makeup and cut her hair. She got "dirty". She carried herself in a new, self-confident way. Her eyes were more focused and intelligent and she was fascinated with learning to use an M-16 rifle. Their future plans as a couple seemed less certain and when Mark suggested that they talk about her return trip to the States, she said "everything I want is right here". (pg. 99) Her transformation had begun as it did for all the young men. In telling the story, Rat says "we were young and innocent, full of romantic bullshit, but we learned pretty damn quick. And so did Mary Anne." (pg. 97)One night Mary Anne failed to come home. Rat and Mark searched the medics' hootch to see if she was in bed with one of the other men. They determined that she went out on ambush with the Green Berets, or Greenies as they were called. When she returned it was "as if she were caught in the no-man's land between Cleveland Heights and deep jungle....

Find Another Essay On The Dirtiness of War - An In depth look of "The Things They Carried."

Book Review of "The Things they Carried"

628 words - 3 pages Tim O’Brien’s, The Things they Carried is a riveting tale of struggle and sacrifice, self indulgence and self pity, and the intrapersonal battles that reeked havoc on even the most battle tested soldiers. O’Brien is able to express these ideas through eloquent writing and descriptive language that makes the reader feel as if he were there. The struggle to avoid cowardice is a prevailing idea in all of O’Brien’s stories.    &nbsp

Stories of the Vietnam War Illustrated in O’Brien’s The Things They Carried

802 words - 3 pages United States that affected history. The Things They Carried describes real objects American soldiers carried during the war. They carried an M-60, a .45-caliber pistol, an assault rifle, ammunition, compass, maps, code books, the PRC-25 radio, sandbags, tanning lotion, toilet paper, tranquilizers, rabbit’s foot, Purple Hearts, diseases, the wounded, the weak, and the land itself. Many soldiers experienced horrific events in Vietnam

Analysis of “The Things They Carried”

687 words - 3 pages In the passage from ?The Things They Carried?, the author uses precise and dramatic language to place the reader at the heart of the narrator?s taxing moral dilemma. This work of metafiction introduces the reader to the young Tim O?Brien, who having just received his draft notice for Vietnam, is very confused about whether he should do the right thing, and run away to Canada, or to do what he is expected by all of society to do, and go to

Things They Carried Essay: Strength in The Things They Carried

981 words - 4 pages Strength in The Things They Carried      Everybody has to deal with adversity at some point in their lives. The adversity that they go through varies from person to person. For First Lieutenant Jimmy Cross, he had to make it through the Vietnam War alive. In the short story, "The Things They Carried," where Cross draws his strength from is somewhat unclear. He seems strong at the beginning of the story, but then again, he also seems to be

The Importance of Friendship in The Things They Carried

1381 words - 6 pages The Importance of Friendship in The Things They Carried The Things They Carried is a collection of stories about the Vietnam War that the author, Tim O’Brien, uses to convey his experiences and feelings about the war. The book is filled with stories about the men of Alpha Company and their lives in Vietnam and afterwards back in the United States. O’Brien captures the reader with graphic descriptions of the war that make one feel as

The Role of Storytelling in The Things They Carried

2793 words - 11 pages returning soldiers could not fall back in to their old life styles. First they felt guilt for surviving many of their brothers in arms. Second they were haunted by the atrocities of war. Some soldiers could not go back to the mental state of peacetime. Then there were soldiers Tim O’Brien meant while in the war that he wrote the book “The Things They Carried,” that showed how important the role of story telling was to soldiers. The role of stories was

The Importance of Linda in "The Things They Carried"

1108 words - 4 pages and does not understand why she is going to die, as the young men in the war are not sure why they had to leave home to fight a war with no immediate cause.As the title implies, they both carry things that represent their burdens, fears, and memories. These items act as a form of protection or distraction for them during their tough times. Some of the men in Vietnam carry comic books or photos to distract them from a cruel war. Others carry items

Myth of Courage Exposed in The Things They Carried

2700 words - 11 pages Americans to question the foundations of their beliefs and values because it calls attention to the inner conscience. More than a war story, O'Brien's The Things They Carried is an expose on personal courage. Gone are the brave and glorious warriors such as those found in the battle of Troy. In THINGS, they are replaced by young men who experience not glory or bravery, but fear, horror, and a personal sense of shame. As mythic courage clashes with the

The things they carried

563 words - 2 pages Chandy Thorn Thorn 1Cynde DelauderEnglish 11130 September 2014"In many respects, Tim O'Brien's The Things They Carried concerns the relationship between fiction and the narrator" (Friedlander 1). The story that O'Brien writes is not a true story, however he can relate to it because he was an active participant in Vietnam. Tim O'Brien wrote much more than a war time story. Tim O'Brien wrote a Story, of pain, hardship, love, and the heavy burdens

The Things They Carried

1581 words - 6 pages Running Header: The Things They Carried by Tim O'Brien 1The Things They Carried by Tim O'BrienENG 1300 W5A2Andrea CarrSouth University OnlineThe Things They Carried by Tim O'Brien "The Things They Carried" is one of several short stories written by Tim O'Brien that brilliantly portrays a squad of young American soldiers in the Vietnam War. Each of the short stories builds on the last but in The Things They Carried the author places focus on how

"The Things They Carried"

2145 words - 9 pages Tran PAGE \* MERGEFORMAT 7 Huy TranProfessor SantilloENG1102-25124 April, 2014Themes Analysis in "The Things They Carried" by Tim O'Brien."The Things They Carried", written by Tim O'Brien and first published in 1990, is rated one of the best literary work about the Vietnam War. Stretching across the story are Tim's memories about Vietnam and some real events that he and his platoon mates experienced. Jimmy Cross, Rat Kiley, Ted Lavender, Henry

Similar Essays

The Horrors Of War: Coping In The Things They Carried

2030 words - 9 pages underwhelmed. The emotions he was expecting to feel do not come. He expresses how insignificant the site was in comparison to his memory. Dry, somewhat peaceful. Obrien writes, “In a way, maybe, I’d gone under with Kiowa, and now after two decades I’d finally worked my way out” (O’Brien 187). Returning to the site of his friend’s death—his coping mechanism. The Things They Carried ends with a bit of an odd chapter semi related to the war, but

The Issue Of Morality In War In The Things They Carried

1249 words - 5 pages war there does not always have to be a moral or thing to take away from an event. O’Brien provides some of the most powerful evidence when talking about war stories and morals. “A true war story is never moral” (65). O’Brien was in Vietnam and experienced first-hand what war was like and he is trying to share that experience through the stories that are told in The Things They Carried. Even though the book is all fictitious stories, O’Brien

Analysis Of "The Things They Carried"

651 words - 3 pages Tim O’Brien’s “The Things They Carried” is the first story in a collection about the Alpha Company, led by First Lieutenant Jimmy Cross during the Vietnam War. The platoon is deployed near Than Khe, an area filled with dense jungle and unrelenting rain where the men must carry or “hump” an unspeakable amount of weight both literal and emotional to survive. The narrator, O’Brien, is one of the soldiers, and he distinguishes one soldier

Analysis Of The Things They Carried

1246 words - 5 pages terrifying enemy that he had expected. Instead of feeling like the hero fighting for his country, O’Brien feels like a villain who took the life of an innocent man for no justifiable reason. Ironically, the moral or lesson in The Things They Carried is that there is no morality in war. War is unnatural and illogical because it forces humans into extreme situations that have no obvious solutions.