The Role Of Storytelling In The Things They Carried

2793 words - 11 pages

The impact of the Vietnam War upon the soldiers who fought there was huge. The experience forever changed how they would think and act for the rest of their lives. One of the main reasons for this was there was little to no understanding by the soldiers as to why they were fighting this war. They felt they were killing innocent people, farmers, poor hard working people, women, and children were among their victims. Many of the 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 important because it gave them an outlet and that outlet was needed both inside and outside the war in order to keep their metal state in check.
One of the hardest events that a soldier had to go through during the war was when one of their friends was killed. Despite their heartbreak they could not openly display their emotions. They could not cry because soldiers do not cry. Such an emotional display like crying would be sign of weakness and they didn’t want to be weak, so they created an outlet. “They were actors. When someone died, it wasn’t quite dying because in a curious way it seemed scripted”(19). Of course things were scripted especially when Ted Lavender died. It had happened unexpectedly and if they didn’t have something planned to do while they were coping they would all have broken down especially Lieutenant Cross. Cross blamed himself for what happened.

Instead of eyeing the perimeter and keeping abreast of the positions of his men, he imagined himself barefoot on a beach in New Jersey with Martha, a women whose love for him he knows is entirely imagined, but to him feels real, until Lavender’s death, no less real (Bloom,24)
Another reason as to why Lavender’s death was so hard to go through is because they knew he would be the first of many that would die too young. Just like millions of other men had died during the war.
The men who were in Tim O’Brien’s platoon caught on quickly, if they talked about everything that was going on as if it was only a story, their lives became a little easier. It became easier even for the men who didn’t practically like the guy who died. In the war it wasn’t about liking one another, that didn’t matter, what mattered to them was expressing their grief without showing it. “In any case, it’s easy to get sentimental about the dead, and to guard against it” (82). Being able to guard against their grief was something that was hard for many. No matter how many stories they told, there was still a sadness that some of them never could get over. The death of Kiowa was one of those impossible...

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