The Things They Carried Essays

This paper analyzes guilt and how it was presented in Tim O’Brien’s novel “The Things They Carried.” The author discusses the sources of guilt and how that emotion is dealt with as two of the major themes in the paper.It looks at the causes and effects of guilt in the book and compares them to outside sources.

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This was the way their lives had become, step by step, ounce by ounce.

The repetition reached a climax when the author revealed the heaviest of all the things they carried, They carried all the emotional baggage of men who might die (paragraph 77).

The omniscient angle of vision enabled him to reveal the thoughts and actions of all the characters.

He graphically illustrated this when describing the freedom birds they dreamed about, taking them away while on guard at night (paragraph 81).

He states that there were many men like the one he describes in the story, all of which he tried to avoid contact with because of the emotional shock that would have come along with the view.

In “The lives of the dead”, the last portion of the novel, O’Brien discovers that he writes stories in a therapy-type way.The main characters in the story were First Lieutenant Jimmy Cross and Martha, a college student who wrote to him.The story flowed from beginning to end, characterizing the changes in Jimmy Cross as he dealt with his emotions as well as the responsibility to the men in his platoon.It was a story about the human spirit under extreme psychological pressure at an age when life was just beginning, and how each soldier dealt with the circumstances.Some authors choose to write stories and novels specifically to evoke certain emotions from their readers as opposed to writing it for just a visual presentation. There were many bodies, real bodies with real faces, but I was young then and I was afraid to look…Here is the story-truth.Because it is such a raw and basic human emotion, everyone has had some experience with it in the past.It is not surprising, then, that the guilt felt by the soldiers in Vietnam is not a new phenomena.“No one who has not been in a war can approach a comprehensive understanding of the war experience.However, if there were a book out there that could come close to making the war a reality for a civilian, it would be Tim O’Brien’s The Things They Carried.In the beginning of the story he was depicted as a boyish leader with dreams of Martha being his escape from the senseless reality of the war.When one of his men was killed he accepted the responsibility and guilt, which changed him into the leader he thought he should have been forgetting Martha and protecting his men.


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