Italo Calvino's The Grapes Of Wrath And Tim O Brien

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The Said and the Unsaid Italo Calvino, an Italian journalist and writer, while talking about books, defines a classic in this way: “The Classics are those books which constitute a treasured experience for those who have read and loved them; but they remain just as rich an experience for those who reserve the chance to read them for when they are in the best condition to enjoy them” (Italo Calvino’s 14 Definitions of What Makes a Classic) . The Grapes of Wrath, by John Steinbeck, and The Things They Carried, by Tim O’Brien are two books that every person should know about. In today’s busy world it is very easy to forget about the beauty of a good book. Not only can a great book tug at the hearts of human emotion, but it can open the reader’s…show more content…
Both stories are full of themes and motifs that to this day have a lasting impact on society, such as the arduous journey of the Joad family in The Grapes of Wrath or the soldier’s guilt in The Things They Carried. Both books are also highly symbolic. In The Grapes of Wrath, for example, the sole length of the book is symbolic of the Joad family journey. Moreover, in The Things They Carried, one of the main characters, Jimmy Cross, is symbolic of Jesus Christ and the leadership sacrifice role. The two stories also address problems that make readers feel an emotional connection to the stories themselves as well as the characters. The Joad family and their struggle emotionally relates to anyone struggling today, whether it be money issues, any form of injustice, or any other personal problem. Likewise, O’Brien, in The Things They Carried, depicts struggles that people of this day face as well, like death, peer pressure, tough sacrifice, and loneliness. Most importantly, the two novels both describe experiences that can not be learned about from a history textbook point of view. Although The Grapes of Wrath and The Things They Carried are two reputable classics, The Things They Carried, by Tim O’Brien, more relatably depicts human experience and emotion as it…show more content…
He does so by saying, “War is hell, but that’s not the half of it, because war is also mystery and terror and adventure and courage and discovery and holiness and pity and despair and longing and love...You feel an intense, out of the skin awareness of your living self - your truest self” (80-81). In a very simple, non-linear way, O’Brien relates the war experience to emotional burdens that are common in today’s society. Such burdens are: fear, loss of loved ones, longing, grief, sacrifice, loneliness, and regret. These emotions in the novel can relate to any person in the world. O’Brien explains this emotional connection in the following way: “The goal, I suppose, any fiction writer has, no matter what your subject, is to hit the human heart and the tear ducts and the nape of the neck and to make a person feel something about the characters are going through and to experience the moral paradoxes and struggles of being human” (`The Things They Carried,' 20 Years On). By writing such impactful stories, O’Brien helps people of all ages relate and connect to struggles that he himself had faced, along with his fellow soldiers. For example, fear of shame is a prevalent theme in The Things They Carried. This theme is very relevant in the world today as teenagers, for

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