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April 3, 2016 | Author: | Posted in english literature, literature and language

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English 303A

Dr . Maureen Newlin

Creating Truth

Author Tim O ‘Brien ‘s classic work The Things They Carried ‘ is a haunting tale from the Vietnam War . Named for the author ‘s focus on several token items each soldier carried with him , the story uses a series of distinct anecdotes about a handful of soldiers as a way to personify the horrors of war and the ways in which the human mind deals makes sense of it , even if these ways are not always sensible or rational [banner_entry_middle]

p The narrator in the story uses character as a brilliant device for representing the various differences between individuals and illustrating how each type deals with hardship in a unique way . O ‘Brien looks at outward signs – in this case the trademark items each soldier carries – as a symbol of the emotional state of the characters as a whole . For example , Lieutenant Jimmy Cross is obsessed with a picture of his hometown sweetheart and spends his time guarding it , admiring it and professing his love and lust for the girl . However , we come to learn that Lt . Cross is not even in a relationship with this girl , a tactic the author refers to as pretending . It seems this relationship ‘ is simply a psychological trick Cross is playing on himself to remove himself from the reality of an insane war . That “Whenever he looked at the photographs , he thought of new things he should have done (p .XXX ) may be a way of saying that Cross would liked to have lived his life differently . Because he is the leader Lieutenant Cross also carries maps , a symbol that he is supposed to lead his troops . He is unable to deal with his own emotions and is unable to deal with the war and as a result cannot lead his men in a strong fashion . Other symbols are used similarly throughout the story , each revealing a bit about the person who carries it

The character Kiowa is a Native American soldier . He carries with him a hatchet that had belonged to his grandfather , a copy of the New Testament , and a pair of moccasins . In showing that these are things he would lug with him through fields of war , the author tells volumes about the people and ideals that are important to the Kiowa character . It is evident that Kiowa values his heritage , the proud warrior background of his people , and perhaps most of all his spirituality . He acts as a type of spiritual guide for the other soldiers in their time of need

Ted Lavender is another important character in this story . The author tells us that the items he carries with him are tranquilizer pills and marijuana . It is obvious that Ted Lavender is greatly emotionally affected by the war , but that he cannot deal with it in a healthy way Instead , he turns to drugs to take him self away from the war for short periods of time . When Lavender dies at… [banner_entry_footer]


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