Ethical evaluation of The Things They Carried "On the Rainy River"

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The protagonist, Tim O’Brien, in The Things They Carried felt ashamed. He had been

dreaming for the past twenty years about his nightmare of shame.


Tim wrote that he was drafted to fight a war he hated. He gave a lengthy explanation

about a page long on why he believed that the Vietnam war was uncalled for. That maybe

why he chose to run away. He was confused on why the war was being fought. At this

stage, we read that underlying tone that O’Brien was not a mindless follower of

America’s public policy. He confirmed this when he wrote later on that he was a liberal,

meaning he valued his individual liberty as his primary political concern. (O’Brien 42).

Ironically, he valued his liberty for himself and failed to fight for his beliefs. He did not

want to fight for the liberty of other individuals since that would jeopardize his own

liberty. He reasoned that the politicians should fight in their own war, enlist their relatives

into combat and be responsible for the lives of their loved ones that they put in the firing

line. Tim tried to say that if the politician were personally involved in warfare, he

would not be that steadfast in supporting the war because he might lose his relatives. He

wanted it to be made a law because he thought it was unfair that the ordinary and

common people were drafted to serve the country’s interests while the politicians who

called for the war could escape from fighting in it. (O’Brien 42). He told the readers that

he initially felt angry, followed by self pity and then numbness. His father asked him

what he intended to do and Tim could only say he would wait. I believe that if Tim

O’Brien was an outright coward, he would have escaped from being found and drafted

into the army.
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