Essay about Literary Techniques in "The Things They Carried"

1276 Words Dec 21st, 2009 6 Pages
A literary technique is a device employed in literature to add depth to a writer’s work. These techniques can be obvious, such as the technique of rhyme in a poem, or subtle, such as juxtaposition, which can go unnoticed by the reader. In The Things They Carried, Tim O’Brien uses many such techniques to provide more depth to his book. Four literary techniques used by Tim O’Brien are symbolism, pathetic fallacy, irony, and juxtaposition. One literary technique prominent in The Things They Carried, particularly in the story by the same name, is symbolism. Throughout this story, O’Brien mentions all the things that the soldiers carry with them, both physical and emotional. However, the physical items that the men carried is more than just …show more content…
This is reflected in the weather at the time of Kiowa’s death. The soldiers were camping out in a field along the Song Tra Bong, and “the rain kept getting worse. And by midnight the field turned into soup” (145). The rain emulates the emotions of the weary and despondent soldiers. Pathetic fallacy is a very useful technique because it helps to provide the tone for the story. If the story was a sad one but the weather was bright and sunny, the tone of the story would be wrong, and vice versa. In Speaking of Courage, the fact that it was raining during the main event of the story helps the reader gain and understanding of just how bleak and dismal the events that occurred were. Irony, or a discrepancy between expectation and reality, is another literary technique used by Tim O’Brien in The Things They Carried. Many of the titles of the stories contain irony themselves. For example, Speaking of Courage is more centred on the themes of failure and the inability to be courageous than it is about courage. The story Love is not, as it would seem, about mutual love, but rather unrequited love. Field Trip, an expression with a usually very positive connotation, is a story about a visit to a battleground where many lives had been lost. The Story How to Tell a True War Story also contains much irony within it. The main point of this story is that a true war story cannot be told because the simple act of telling it makes it untrue. The title of this
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