Essay about Tim O'Brien's the Things They Carried

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Tim O'Brien's The Things They Carried is not a novel about the Vietnam War.

It is a story about the soldiers and their experiences and emotions that are brought

about from the war. O'Brien makes several statements about war through these dynamic

characters. He shows the violent nature of soldiers under the pressures of war, he

makes an effective antiwar statement, and he comments on the reversal of a social deviation

into the norm. By skillfully employing the stylistic technique of specific, conscious

detail selection and utilizing connotative diction, O'Brien thoroughly and convincingly makes

each point.

The violent nature that the soldiers acquired during their tour in Vietnam is

one of O'Brien's predominant themes
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The whole concept is metaphoric, based on the connotations of key words; nevertheless, it is extremely

effective in conveying O'Brien's theme.

O'Brien makes a valid, effective antiwar statement in The Things They Carried.

The details he includes give the reader insight into his opinions concerning the

Vietnam War and the draft that was used to accumulate soldiers for the war. While thinking of

escaping to Canada, he says: "I was drafted to fight a war I hated. . .The American

war seemed to me wrong"(44). O'Brien feels that U.S. involvement in Vietnamese affairs

was unnecessary and wasteful. He includes an account of his plan to leave the country

because he did not want to risk losing his life for a cause he did not believe in. Here

O'Brien shows the level of contempt felt towards the war; draft dodging is dangerous. He was

not a radical antiwar enthusiast, however, for he takes "only a modest stand against the

war"(44). While not condoning the fighting, he does not protest the war except for

minimally, peacefully, and privately doing so. His dissatisfaction with the drafting

process is included in his statement, "I was a liberal, for Christ's sake: if they needed

fresh bodies, why not draft some back-to-the-stone-age-hawk?"(44). O'Brien's point of drafting only

those who approve involvement in the war is clearly made while his political

standpoint is simultaneously revealed. The
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