A Cultural Studies Approach to "Enemies" in The Things They Carried
Two men who fight over a jackknife in "Enemies", a chapter in Tim O'Brien's work, The Things They Carried. A cultural studies approach to "Enemies" allows the reader to look much deeper into the meaning of the events that unfold in "Enemies". The fight over the knife could very well reflect the events occurring in society during that time.
In short, "Enemies" is about two men, Lee Strunk and Dave Jensen, who are battling not only in a war but with each other. They were viciously fighting about a missing jackknife. A question that the reader might ask themselves is, why were they fighting over a jackknife? Did it have some special sentimental meaning? These questions cannot be answered; they can only be left to wonder.
Vietnam was a very mentally and physically strenuous war to fight. At any given point any soldier could snap. That is exactly what happened in O'Brien's short story. Young men were basically thrown into a war zone and were expected to kill hundreds and thousands of people (some even innocent people) and not be phased by it. That is just unrealistic. Imagine waking up every morning and not knowing who you were going to kill that day or even if you were going to live through it. Not many people have the mental capacity to continue day after day after day and not be phased by this. Some of them must have been like walking zombies, trained to kill. Not knowing why or how. This mental strain is almost unimaginable for most youths today.
After one considers these facts, they can begin to see why the brawl occurred. The two characters...