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"The Things They Carried" Chapter Analysis

749 words - 3 pages

In the chapters "on the rainy river" and "The dentist" Tim O'Brien parallels the recurring theme of the societal shame associated with being a coward and not conforming to societies standards, by showing the reader the conflicts that arose with the war and to give the reader a different perspective than the normal paradigm society influences us to depict a war hero to be. By paralleling these two chapters O' Brien can ultimately convince us that not everyone going to war was truly heroic, and by using these two chapters he effectively emphasizes this idea.Although both chapters are about two contrasting characters, they both convey same theme of societal shame. In "On the rainy river" Tim O'Brien writes, "Now perhaps you can understand why I've never told this story before. It's not just the embarrassment of tears." He goes on by saying how numerous figures he deems heroic, such as Abraham Lincoln,, and lieutenant Jimmy Cross are cheering him on and writes "All those eyes on my - the town, the whole universe and I that swirl of faces along the river and in my head I could hear people screaming at me. Traitor! They yelled. Turncoat! xxxxx! I couldn't tolerate it." Like O'Brien eloquently put it, he did not go to war because he was brave or patriotic, but rather because he could not "endure the mockery or the patriotic ridicule." He had no true heroic virtues, but he went to war because he did not want the shame and ridicule associated with cowardice. In the chapter "The dentist" O' Brien uses a character that contrasts himself to emphasize this theme. Curt lemon, a man who "didn't mind blood or pain" Had a similar problem as Tim O'Brien. Though Curt Lemon was a hard brave man, he had an embarrassing fear of dentists. We have a pre conceived notion that all war heroes are supposed to be fearless because they stare death in the face on a regular basis at war, and to have one to be so scared of a dentist that he faints in the presence of one is pathetic and embarrassing. Tim O' Brien writes that "Anyone would have laughed...

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