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The Things They Carried By Tim O’brien

1045 words - 5 pages

In the book The Things They Carried, Tim O’Brien uses many themes to help draw connections between the book and the reader. O’Brien’s “On The Rainy River” chapter contains countless motifs that make this chapter so compelling. “On The Rainy River” describes his decision whether to enter the draft or to flee to Canada where he would not get condemned. The main theme in this chapter is embarrassment. First Lieutenant Tim O’Brien goes insane from the embarrassment he would face if he did not enter the draft.
Tim O’Brien finds himself staring at his draft notice on June 17, 1968. He was confused and flustered. O’Brien does not know how or why he got selected for the draft. All he knew was that he was above the war itself, “A million things all at once—I was too good for this war. Too smart, too compassionate, to everything. It couldn’t happen” (41). He was also demented on the fact that he, a war hater, was being drafted. He felt if anyone were to be drafted it should be the people who supported the war. “If you support a war, if you think it’s worth the price, that’s fine, but you have to put your own precious fluids on the line” (42). His draft notice was when he first carried his thought of embarrassment. He instantly thought if he does not support the war he should not have to go to war. The only way not to go to war was to flee the country so the draft council could not find him. He had a moral split. “I feared the war, yes, but I also feared exile” (44). This quote is so true in young adults, not only then, but also now. Peer pressure, the thought of being embarrassed if we do not do something, pushes many young adults to do things they do not want to such as pushing Tim O’Brien to enter the draft. The thought of being judged by the ones you love the most is worse than the thought of death itself. When Tim O’Brien leaves his house in Worthington, he leaves a note saying, “Taking off, will call, love Tim” (46).This note presents his fear of facing the embarrassment from his parents. He is just going to leave and never look back, until he found Elroy. Then in just six days he finds himself and had to make one of the hardest decisions of his life. During his stay, Time O’Brien would dream about making a break for the Canadian border, “At night I’d toss around in bed, half awake, half dreaming, imagining how I’d sneak down to the beach and quietly push one of the old man’s boats out into the river and start paddling my way toward Canada” (50). The only thing that kept him in the USA was the embarrassment he would have to deal with from all of his friends, family, neighbors, and many more. Even with all this embarrassment he withheld before himself, he...

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