The Things They Carried Literary Analysis

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The Things They Carried by Tim O’Brien is a semi-autobiographical novel based on O’Brien’s experience in the Vietnam War. In the book, O’brien tells about the events leading up to him being drafted, war stories, and some narratives about his comrades. He says that he did not join the war because of morals, but because he was scared not to. Throughout the book, the characters have been coping with death/mortality, social obligations/pressures, guilt/shame, and moral conflicts. O’Brien shares his thoughts on what makes a “true war story” which is very interesting. Overall, O’Brien induces thought and feeling through the interesting medium of stories and language. The way O’Brien describes stories and language themselves is intriguing. He tells stories because “By telling stories, you objectify your own experience. You separate it from yourself”(152) and therefore preserve its life. The innards of a story work in an interesting way. When describing how his friend, Rat Kiley, had a habit of exaggerating, he noted “It was not a question of deceit. Just the opposite: he wanted to heat up the truth, to make it burn so hot that you would feel exactly what he felt” (85). He says when people lie while telling a narrative, it does not always come from a bad place. The untruth is often there to make the story more truthful and to make the reader or listener feel something. O’Brien discusses this further, later in the…show more content…
The topics of pressures, shame, loss, conflict and the human condition are interesting and O’Brien does a good job of connecting the reader to the book, however they did not resonate with me as much as others have. I would recommend this book for adolescents and adults. They do not have to be interested in war to be able to appreciate the other factors of the novel however it would most likely
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