The Things They Carried By Tim O ' Brien

892 Words4 Pages
The Vietnam War was a long, exhausting, and traumatic experience for all of the soldiers and those who came with them. The Things They Carried, by Tim O 'Brien illustrates the different affects the war had on a variety of people: Jacqueline Navarra Rhoads, a former nurse during the Vietnam war, demonstrates these effects within her own memoir in the book, The Forgotten Veterans. Both sources exemplify many tribulations, while sharing a common thread of suffering from mental unpredictability. Desensitization and unstable morals are two main themes relevant not only throughout the novel, but in Jacqueline 's personal story.
Desensitization is one of many mental affects the Vietnam War caused those associated with it. In the novel, the reader sees in many situations how characters develop a loss of emotion towards suffering, killing, and violence. Things that the characters used to be affected by no longer impact them due to the extreme exposure of the negativity surrounding them. The soldiers saw so much death it became a normality to them, corpses became objects laughed at and played with. They “had ways of making the dead seem not quite so dead," shaking hands and making fun of the lifeless bodies turned into a coping method. The men and nurses learned that "by slighting death, by acting, we pretended it was not the terrible thing it was” (O 'Brien 480). Not only was their sensitivity lost, but the majority of their emotions as well. O 'Brien shows this in
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