The things they Carried

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The Things They Carried is Tim O'Brien's quasi-biography about his experience fighting in the Vietnam War. After working as a reporter at Washington Post, O'Brien chose to represent the trauma in war through fiction. In the short stories collection The Things They Carried, the documented history of the Vietnam War is narrated through a fictional memory of both the protagonist and O'Brien…

Introduction


As Tina Chen describes the narrative style in The Things They Carried, "O'Brien dismantles binaristic notions of 'happening-truth' and 'story-truth': 'A thing may happen and be a total lie; another thing may not happen and be truer than truth' (O'Brien89)" (77). In other words, documented history and the story-telling of the Vietnam War are not necessarily antagonistic. This is made possible because "the disorder of a world without rules underlies O'Brien problematizing of the boundaries between personal memory and official history" (Chen 79). As a result, the short stories he wrote juxtapose descriptions of soldiers as individual human beings with thoughts and emotions with scenes that vividly depict the dehumanizing violence at the war. O'Brien's purpose of writing war fictions is not to recount the Vietnam War as a documented truth, but to revise it to produce a social redefinition of war. The opening and title story, "The Things They Carried" exemplifies several literary features of how O'Brien attempts to narrate the almost incommunicable war trauma and morality through memory and fiction.
This story uses dramatic action and a focal representation of Lieutenant Jimmy Cross, similar to most war fictions. ...
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