The Man I Killed Literary Analysis Essay

1977 Words8 Pages
In his narratives, Tim intentionally fictionalizes the war experience to illustrate the personal effect the war had, not only on the soldiers but also, the outsiders. He makes sure to mention every detail, even the insignificant little ones, like the things they carried into battle, consisting of their mundane necessities like extra rations or tranquilizers, to U.S. stationeries like Sterno and tanning lotions, to infections and diseases, such as malaria and dysentery. Through story truth, Tim also reveals the psychological burdens they carried; they carried the land of Vietnam, the orange-red dusty soil, the sky, the gravity; they carried the whole atmosphere. They also hauled in the weight of memory, the small hope of getting out alive,…show more content…
“His jaw was in his throat, his upper lip and teeth were gone, his one eye was shut…” (118, TTTC). O’Brien illustrates the corpse of the young man very graphically, mentioning the “slight tear at the lobe of the ear”, the loss of “the upper lip and gum and teeth”, the disjointed head, and the wounded, bloody neck, along with the cheek peeled back in ragged stripes, looking almost animated (122, TTTC). The writer repeatedly recites the explicit descriptions in order to express the soldier’s own obsession with the chilling experience that leaves him nothing but mute. While Kiowa, his companion, urges him to talk about the traumatic event, Tim O’Brien instead, formulates his own story concerning the lifeless, Vietnamese man, the man whom he knew nothing of- the belief that the man wasn’t a fighter judging from the “bony legs, a narrow waist, long shapely fingers”, with a sunken chest and the “wrist of a child” (118, TTTC). He suspects that the man wasn’t into politics; rather he liked books and mathematics, with the hopes of becoming a teacher or scholar someday, however, had no choice but to partake in the war due to the underlying fear of bringing disgrace upon himself and his family. O’Brien more or less, inflicts his own life story and internal…show more content…
Even though it is unsuccessful in narrating the experiences more accurately, the story truth reaches out to the audience forcefully, and explain why each character acted the way the did and the outcome of their actions. The readers also get to perceive how each character feel throughout their war adventure and how they grew as an individual. Mary Anne, from the "Sweetheart Song Tra Bong," transformed notably, just like the soldiers, from a typical American girl to a violent, barbaric woman. And this was just after she became exposed to the war, getting the liberation she was deprived of, to begin with, back in her previous life. Then, in "The Man I killed", it is shown how the character, O’Brien, marvels at the deepening wounds of the Vietnamese man he killed out of self-defense, all while applying his own invented story onto him, illustrating his immeasurable shame. Another victim of the war, soldier Norman Bowker, is also afflicted after his experiences, which breaks him down and cedes him to commit suicide from survivor guilt. Even though Tim could have exaggerated his storytelling, his writing helps the readers view the ordeal of the Vietnam war on a deeply personal
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