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The Things They Carried By Tim O'brien

1913 words - 8 pages

Tim O’Brien, the author of many war novels and short stories such as The Things They Carried, is a worldly man whose many influences include his love of learning, his special bond with his family and his experiences during the Vietnam War. Tim’s unique style of writing, known as verisimilitude or blending of fiction and non-fiction, lends itself to stories of an almost autobiographical nature, however Tim makes changes to make the writing more interesting. Tim uses the aptly names character of Tim O’Brien to express the connections of himself and his character namesake. Over the course of the many short stories in The Things They Carried O’Brien directly and indirectly compares many important aspects of his own life such as his childhood and family life, his military experiences and his love of education to that of his character Tim O’Brien.
Tim O’Brien lived a happy life with his family growing up in Worthington, Minnesota, he went to Macalester College in nearby St. Paul’s Minnesota and had a full scholarship to a bachelor’s degree at Harvard, and he was living his dreams. All until the day he received his draft notice in the mail, O’Brien had been drafted into the Vietnam War and just like the character of Tim in O’Brien’s book The Things They Carried and O’Brien had been stripped of his dreams and his innocence. Through the experiences of the character Tim, O’Brien is representing the experiences and feelings of himself about the Vietnam War and other aspects of his life. In this way O’Brien’s art imitates his life as he writes about things that actually happened to him or those around him. The style Tim writes with is known as Verisimilitude or fiction rooted in reality, this style of writing allows O’Brien to directly connect to his writing which in turn allows him to write stories of greater power and intrigue (Hacht). O’Brien’s authenticity allows him to write fiction that is believable to the average reader (Farrell).
The first short story in O’Brien’s novel tells the story of love and desperation in Vietnam that connects to the desperation O’Brien felt in having to leave his life behind in Minnesota to go to war. Tim is the one listening to the story so that he can write about it in his book, just as O’Brien writes about this story himself, in this way this part of the story is almost autobiographical. There are other statements during these early chapters that relate to O’Brien’s early life as well, such as the statement “I loved baseball and hamburgers and cherry Cokes” (O’Brien 53) or “Tim loved baseball, playing catcher and shortstop on various Little League teams” (Farrell). As such each of these statements is another representation of Tim and O’Brien sharing similarities in their early lives. As the short stories continue, further similarities to O’Brien’s life begin to appear as well. Just as in the fourth chapter when Tim was drafted he felt “outrage to terror to bewilderment to guilt to sorrow and then back again to...

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