Tim O’Brien “The Things They Carried”, and His Writing Style

In his story “The Things They Carried” O’Brien illustrates casualties of Vietnam war through development of characters’ emotional and mental state. Mental pressure is brought on by war, but O’Brien portrays it symbolically through product and emotional things the soldiers bring. He provides a breakdown of everything soldiers take.

The development of emotional understanding of the world and values is depicted through the character of Lieutenant Jim Cross.

His negligence, passion for a lady and narrow-mindedness triggers a death of among the soldiers, and this occasion forces his to modify his worths and ethical code of a soldier. O’Brien uses a basic language, but importance and stylistic gadgets helps him to unfold the message of the story. The narrative “The Things They Brought” was released in 1990. It explains the occasions of Vietnam War and evaluates deep personal feelings of the main heroes, and things they were faced with during wartime. Soldiers carry various “things” with them.

Under “things” O’Brien implies weapons and ammunition along with fear, love, individual worths and beliefs, however “nearly everybody humped photographs” (p. 4). This story strongly illustrates inner state of the characters during wartime and their living essentials such as worry, kindness, love, and unpredictability. These things are so essential for them as ammunition throughout wartime, due to the fact that they assist the primary heroes to conquer depression and troubles they face with. It is necessary that “a set of things” has actually been altered, and at the end of the story the heroes bring a totally different “things” with them.

As Kaplan defines war stories: “Almost all of the literature on the war, both imaginary and nonfictional, explains that the only certain thing throughout the Vietnam War was that nothing was particular” (Kaplan, 1993, p. 43). The primary character of the book is Lieutenant Jim Cross, a guy who falls for a lady who does not return his feelings. Jim suffers greatly and can do nothing but dreaming about close relations with this woman. His negligence of tasks costs life among his soldiers, and after this horrible event, he puts an end to his false dreams, and reassess the majority of his values and views.

It was really difficult to him to alter his worldview however he was strong enough to handle psychological problem, and re-sort his “things”. The essence of the text is that wartime has an excellent influence on sensations and views of individuals. When a single person’s actions start to impact another individual, we have moved from individual ethics to social ethics and frequently need to put some limits on human habits (Bowen, Weigl, 1997). The story morality mentions that everybody is responsible for his own actions, and it is worthless to blame whatever on the people around you.

Jim Cross is illustrated as the individual who has lots of life experience, however still has not discovered the fact of life. The story “The Things They Carried” represents that for some soldiers their concern is too heavy and they can not carry it any longer. At the beginning of the story O’Brien describes things they bring: “what they carry was partially a function of rank, partially a field spatiality” (O’Brien, p. 5). Even more, for the majority of them it is challenging to change their mindset towards life, however the rat-trap of war has a terrific impact on their outlook.

For example, Jim Cross has burned all photos of Martha and shifts his attention to tasks. “These problems– the supplies the men carried to stay physically alive– are placed on the exact same level in terms of description as the items carried that supplied psychological sustenance to the males of the squad” (Posek, 1997). The other main characters, Ted Lavender, Kiowa, Lee Strunk, and Henry Dobbins, are also carry their “things” which vary due to the fact that they have different life experiences and expectations. Nonetheless, war requires them to carry the same mental things as frightening and hope.

They need to adjust to war, but the only method for them is to alter their routines and individual values. Some of them like Ted Lavender’s conditioned to this reality utilizing their own method, however fails. Subconscious persuasion and mind-altering drugs have no effects. This triggers absence of coincidence in between war and personal feelings, given that many of the characters struggling to establish their emotions while everybody else battles to reduce their sensations. O’Brien illustrates that when worry begins to control, individuals generally act in their own interests, they deteriorate as the keepers of customs and morality.

It stays disappointing that the social concerns that are normally determined as referring to handle questions of individual choice, instead of common responsibility. Besides, product things the characters carry feeling burden: “Grief, fear, love, yearning these were intangibles, but the intangibles had their own mass and specific gravity, they had concrete weight.” (O’Brien p. 6). The remarkable feature of O’Brien’s design is really exact descriptions: “As a first lieutenant and army leader, Jimmy Cross brought a compass, maps, code books, field glasses, and a. 45(c) quality handgun that weighed 2.

9 pounds complete loaded.” (O’Brien p. 4). Breakdown of product things the soldiers brought assists O’Brien to require a reader to comprehend a problem they brought. O’Brien goes far beyond a simplified description offered a weight of each product the soldiers brings. “The weapon weighed 7. 5 pounds unloaded, 8. 2 pounds with its full 20 round publication. The riflemen brought anywhere from 12 to 20 magazines … adding on another 8. 4 pounds at minimum, 14 pounds at maximum.” (O’Brien, p. 5). O’Brien is a keen observer of individuals, historical and war occasions which is manifested in his design of composing.

O’Brien portrays that a battlefield is the most dreadful place he has ever seen. In this collection of the short stories he depicts the futility of soldiers deaths and sufferings of guys who are still alive, but understand that death is “around the corner”. The message of his stories is that war is ridiculous, war brings just grief and continuous stress to be killed. In the story O’Brien calls concerns concerning moral health of individuals, and in spite of all the negative life lessons soldiers understand what it is to be an individual.

Throughout the story there is a guaranteed blame unmoral behaviour of individuals, however it is most poignantly and symbolically demonstrated with the rejection of previous life. O’Brien reveals that the inner state of soldiers has changed, and the readers can not discover a cynical man as the majority of them were prior to the war. On the other hand, war causes individuals to become insensitive. Obrien portrays that the psychological state of Jim Cross has altered. He has not a “a love guy” as he was illustrated at the beginning of the story.

To some level, the moment of death caused the awakening of many characters in the story. For example, Jim Cross sees the truth of life only when the soldier dies because of his neglect. O’Brien portrays that worry used to like cause individual deterioration. Tolerance secures that diversity and needs respect. Jim Cross is a person who combats with his own flaw altering his personal views after Ted Lavender’s death. When fear starts to dominate, people typically act in their own interests, they degrade as the keepers of customs and morality.

It remains disappointing that the social issues that are typically determined as pertaining to deal with concerns of specific option, rather than of communal obligation. The most excellent and effective is the last scene of the story, when after the death of Lavender Jim burns Martha’s letters and photos promising never ever have fantasies. The facts discussed above show the concept that just in difficult situations people show their real nature and values. Toughness stems not from insensitivity however from a rigorous personality; code which works as the characters’ sole defense versus the overwhelming turmoil of war.

O’Brien possesses a distinct design of writing which appeals to readers mind and emotions. Writing of the author is filled with significance and meaning, hidden in plain sight below a smooth narrative design that breathes not a word of agenda, of dogma, or of individual belief. In this way, his writing contains knowledge that is concealed to all, however give just tips to be understood. Also considerable in the writing design of O’Brien is a tendency to handle the character point of view in the narrative. The representation of the material is very affective.

The structure of the piece is intended to force readers to believe the issue over. Clear representation highlighted the author’s awareness of the concerns under conversation. The vocabulary is primarily neutral. Design and option of words create a sophisticated tone, but, as the most important, unprepared readers understand the message of the chapter without problems, due to the fact that the O’Brien’s language is very brilliant and clear. He interest such universal virtues as equality and faith, and gives insight look into the root of the issue.

The most important that the second chapter offers it readers, especially those who are not knowledgeable about the reality of war. There are no romantic and lengthy descriptions in the narratives, but description of occasions and emotions ae very succinct and quick. O’Brien portrays that our purchased and organized world one feels sometimes the need of a change. He “draws the reader into the text, calling the reader’s attention to the process of invention and challenging him to figure out which, if any, of the stories hold true” (Calloway, 1995, p. 249).

The repeating strategy assists to move logical tension and draws the readers attention to some key elements of the syntax, helping to form authors message: “That’s what stories are for. Stories are for joining the past to the future. Stories are for those late hours in the night when you can’t keep in mind how you got from where you were to where you are. Stories are for eternity, when memory is removed, when there is absolutely nothing to remember except the story.” (O’Brien p. 40). The collection of his stories can be called a “real” war story as it explains casualties of life experienced by soldiers.

O”‘Brien states “that war is Hell” potraying “extensive and sensitive exploration of soldiers’ hearts and minds” (Literary Encyclopedia. 2005). The author depicts that war is a harmful and significant evil which alter feeling and sensation, views and customizeds of soldiers. In spite of all the negative life lessons Jim Cross understands what it is to be a specific, and re-sorts his “things he carried”. It was the only method for all soldiers to make it through during war. At the end of the story “things” form a strict ethical code which operates as the characters’ sole defense versus the frustrating turmoil of war.

They set of things consist of the suitables of honor, nerve and endurance in a world that is often chaotic and always uncomfortable. The story teaches that a fully grown person acts in accordance with his own ethical code establishing a technique to life that assists him make it through the day. As O’Brien composes: “By informing stories, you objectify your own experience. You separate it from yourself” (O’Brien, p. 9). His characters are fully grown persons who act in accordance with their own morals developing a technique to life that assists them make it through the day.

The development of a character from a narrow-minded individual who does not care much about the repercussions of his actions to a fully grown personality is another function of style of writing: “I ‘d pertain to this war a quiet, thoughtful sort of individual, a college grad, Phi Beta Kappa and summa cum laude, all the qualifications, however after seven months in the bush I understood that those high, civilized trappings had actually in some way been squashed under the weight of the basic day-to-day realities. I ‘d turned mean inside (O’Brien, p. 9).

To conclude, O’Brien utilizes various particular methods and different stylistics gadgets to convey a message of the stories and attract feelings of readers and imagination. Development of characters, simple vocabulary and a deep emotional effect on the reader are the main writing features of O’Brien.

Conceptualizing Ideas

  • Why did O’Brien give detailed list of all things the soldiers’ brings?
  • O’Brien depicts a death of Ted Lavender. Why did he pick this character?
  • Was it so crucial to “eliminate” somebody?
  • O’Brien uses the style of love at the beginning of the story. Why?
  • What material and emotional things the soldiers bring? What is their significance?
  • What is the link in between morality of the characters and their actions? Did it impact the other characters? How?

The war is not sweet for those individuals who suffer from it. O’Brien describes, describes and justifies soldiers in regards to a deep and ineradicable distinction between “past” and “present”. In stories O’Brien utilizes psychological impact with the ramification of uncertainty, doubt and deliberation. At the end, O’Brien slams dreadful and piteous nature of war which alter individuals and their world understanding.

Symbols, metaphors, repeating helps to impress the reader and attract his feelings. Emotional concern needs to not be considered approved at a causal description of death. Nevertheless, a war offering unique significance to the ‘uniqueness’ led to a specific issue about the sound judgment of showing the desire of individual to discover remedy for emotional pressure. For the majority of the soldiers a sense of remaining in the army to be completely revealed and established requires that individuals enjoy the right to choose their fate.

Second, at a personal level, it obviously makes relationships with others possible, producing a world of meaning. War is a true journey for guys: it helps to choose, enables relationships with others, and offers strength and durability. At the start of the story numerous characters were not prepared to save the life to conserve the life of others while at the end they ended up being real soldiers prepared to rescuer their life.

Note Cards

1. “Something for sure, he stated. The lieutenant’s in some deep hurt. I imply that weeping jag– the way he was carrying on– it wasn’t fake or anything, it was genuine durable hurt (O’Brien 17).

2. (about cowardice) “In many respects this was the heaviest burden of all, for it might never be put down.” (O’Brien 13).

3. The feelings are the heaviest burden because we can not throw it down.

4. The death of Ted Lavender is a push, which requires soldiers to try to find the reality (sense) of life.

5. The death of Ted Lavender is a watershed between past and future, old worths and new ethics of a soldier.

6. “It was extremely sad … the things men brought inside.” (O’Brien 10). 7. “By informing stories, you objectify your own experience. You separate it from yourself” (O’Brien, p. 9).

8. “They brought the soldier’s greatest fear, which was the fear of blushing. Male eliminated, and passed away, because they were embarrassed not to. It was what had actually brought them to the war in the very first location, absolutely nothing favorable, no dreams of splendor or honor, simply to avoid the blush of dishonor. They died so as not to die of embarrassment” (O’Brien, p. 3).

9. Worry applied to like cause specific destruction.

10. Soldiers brought the concern of the world (war).

11. “Some escaped the fear, however handled the death and damage. Some made extremely hard choices, and some simply tried to make it through” (O’Brien, p. 11).

Work Mentioned

1. Bowen, K., Weigl, B. Writing in between the Lines: An Anthology on War and Its Social Consequences, University of Massachusetts Press, 1997.

2. Calloway, C. “How to Tell a Real War Story: Metafiction in the Things They Brought”, Critique, Vol. 36, 1995, pp. 249-257.

3. Kaplan, S. “The Undying Uncertainty of the Storyteller in Tim O’Brien’s the important things They Brought”. Critique, Vol. 35, 1993, pp. 43-52.

4. O’Brien, T. Literary Encyclopedia. 2005. Offered at: http://www. litencyc. com/php/speople. php? rec=real&& UID=3370

5. O’Brien, T. The Important Things They Carried. Broadway, 1998.

6. Posek, J. “The Paradox of Necessity in Tim O’Brien’s “The Things They Brought” Literature Workshop 180J, November 17, 1997.

Offered at: http://www. nd. edu/ ~ frswrite/mcpartlin/1998/ Posek. shtml Draft Prices quote: “As a first lieutenant and platoon leader, Jimmy Cross carried a compass, maps, code books, binoculars, and a. 45(c) caliber pistol that weighed 2. 9 pounds complete packed.” (p. 4). “The weapon weighed 7. 5 pounds unloaded, 8. 2 pounds with its complete 20 round publication. The riflemen brought anywhere from 12 to 20 publications … addin