War stories are one of the most interesting genres in literature, and The Things They Carried and The Red Convertible are one of the most analyzed, studied, and debated in this genre. Tim O’Brien’s The Things They Carried is a compendium of different stories narrating the…
This paper compares and contrasts these two stories in terms of themes, point of view, and style.
As stated by Tim O’Brien the story The Things they Carried portrays peace or reconciliation and not warfare or conflict yet for the combatants they have to engage in warfare before attaining peace. The setting for the story is mostly in Vietnam, and those chapters that occur in other parts of the world are thoughts about the war and the extent of its impact on the individuals that the combatants mature into. Being engaged in war for too long made the soldiers unable to cope with their ‘normal’ surroundings (O’Brien 23):
They carried the soldier’s greatest fear, which was the fear of blushing. Men killed, and died, because they were embarrassed not to. It was what had brought them to the war in the first place, nothing positive, no dreams of glory or honor, just to avoid the blush of dishonor. They died so as not to die of embarrassment.
The second important theme is guilt. There is an enormous level of guilt taking place in the story. For instance, both Cross and Bowker think that they should be held responsible for the death of Kiowa. Even O’Brien senses too much guilt for taking the life of an unreal person. The third central theme is truth. O’Brien emphasized that truth is revealed in numerous different ways in the story. Although not every part of the stories is real, the emotions and sentiments within them are. The last major theme is seclusion. The soldiers were secluded from the outside world, for that was there way to survive. They regarded everybody as strangers and not only the people of Vietnam but those at home too. Even at home they regarded themselves secluded, for the people around them were unable to understand or grasp the ordeals they had to endure in order to survive.
One of the most obvious ...
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