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The Things They Carried, by Tim O'Brien - Book Report/Review Example

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The Things They Carried, by Tim O'Brien

The book takes a look at various themes such as bravery, truth, and the emotional stress of fighting a war, which affects their lives. The war affected their lives drastically by leaving an emotional scar in their lives, which affects their lives after the war. The soldiers are bitter towards the people of their community because they feel that they have given up their dreams and ambitions to fight a war to make those people happy.
It is really difficult not to notice Tim's masked bitterness and shame as he wishes that he had never fought in the war. Tim has always opposed the war and has spoken against it quite a few times. However he has not made such a big anti-war protest against the war because he is unconsciously afraid of the town people's reaction. It is a shock for him to receive a draft notice because he is against the meaningless Vietnam War. He feels that he is going to waste years of his life away to go and fight in a meaningless war. The town people apply a lot of pressure on him to go to war, which does not make it easy for him. He feels bitter that he has to give up his life to do something he doesn't believe all so that he can make the people of his community happy. Tim feels that he will be ridiculed be everyone if he does not fulfill his or her ambitions. He tries to clear his mind by working at a meat plant where he has to clean up dead pigs with water and wash the blood off them. In a way Tim associates the smell of pig blood with the smell of human blood. The only escape for him is to run away to Canada and escape the draft. He knows that his family and fellow townsmen will never forgive him for his "cowardly" act because they have loads of expectations from him. There is this feeling in his heart that he owes a lot to the town and that it would be unpatriotic of him to run away from serving his country. He runs away to the United States Canadian border where he stays at the Tip Top Lodge. His stay at the lodge allows him to make up his mind whether he should go or not. Tim finally decides to go to war because he is ashamed that he has let his community down and will not be able to face himself again. He is scared by the thought that people will gossip behind his back in the end he does realize that the only reason why he went to war was because of his shame and not his belief. ""I survived, but it's not a happy ending. I was a coward. I went to the war." (O'Brien, 4, pg. 61) Tim feels like a coward because he can't stand up for him self and bows to the wishes of his community.

Speaking of Courage
"[The town] had no memory, therefore no guilt.... It did not know shit about shit, and did not care to know." (O'Brien, Chapter 15, pg. 143)

Norman Bowker is a disillusioned person because he feels that his service in the war has been meaningless. The quote speaks a lot about what he feels about the people of his town. He has just returned from his tour of duty in Vietnam where he witnessed a lot of bloodshed and violence, which has left deep wounds in his soul. Bowker has gone through a lot of hardship in the battlefront where he has lost his best friend Kiowa to a mortar attack. The townspeople cannot do anything for him because they don't have the memories of ...Show more


The Things They Carried," by Tim O'Brien is a story about a group of novice soldiers who are performing their tour of duty in Vietnam. According to Gene Lyons, this book is a blend of traditional and untraditional forms - a collection, of "short stories, essays, anecdotes, narrative fragments, jokes, fables, biographical and autobiographical sketches, and philosophical asides" (Lyons…
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The Things They Carried, by Tim OBrien essay example
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