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The Things They Carried Essay

1488 words - 6 pages

The Things They Carried

The Things They Carried by Tim O'Brien is a captivating recitation in which Tim O'Brien maintains that all the stories featured in the entire book are indeed true stories. Tim is the protagonist as well as the narrator of this particular story and it is the experiences that he had regarding war that have drove him to write the this story. The book gives a clear depiction of the war in Vietnam by showing the horrors of war but there have been varying views regarding the question of whether the book is an antiwar or not. As a result, the purpose of this paper is to address this particular issue by addressing different views in regard to whether the book is an ...view middle of the document...

On these there is no much emphasis given by the narrator but what is elaborated widely in the story is on the intangible items. The memories as well as the fears which are the prime focus of the entire narration and this are one of the features that raise some undertones in regard to the story being an anti-war.

Arguing that description of the weapons can promote war is not right and cannot be proved from the text. Some opponents use the description of the deadly weapons that the soldiers carry along with them such as machine guns, grenades and assault rifles as the basis to refute that this is not an antiwar story. However, despite the descriptions of the some of the occurrences that happens during war times, the reader should be careful on the way the narrator handles the description of the tangible items mentioned above. When describing these items, the narrator does not miss to mention how much they way depicting them as burdens and the pressure exerted on the soldiers by them. "The weapon weighed 7.5 pounds unloaded, 8.2 pounds with its full 20 round magazine…. 8.4 pounds at minimum, 14 pounds at maximum." (O'Brien 5). The narrator directs the attention of the reader away from what the soldiers are carrying but the effect these items have on the soldiers and the implication is that these are unnecessary burdens. The writer also focused on the effect the external forces such as nature had on the soldiers, “They carried the sky. The whole...they carried gravity.” (O'Brien 14). On the contrary, much of the emphasis is laid on the intangible items that the soldiers carries, the emotions according to the narrator are the items that exert the greatest pressure on the soldiers; they are the heaviest of all the items that they carry. As Tim O'Brien puts it, “Grief, love, terror, longing these were intangibles, but these items had specific gravity and their mass too, despite being intangible their weight was tangible.” (O'Brien 20). This refutes the view that the mention of the tangible items (weapons) would be a promotion of war in any way.

Another way to look at the narration of the story and the description of the things the soldiers carried as prove that it is an antiwar story is the fact that the physical burdens can be discarded while the emotional must be tolerated. This speaks directly against war and the use of the weapons (Kirszner 167). The physical burdens are the weapons that the soldiers carry along as they attend to their duties while the emotions addresses the effects that war has especially on the personal lives of these soldiers. The pains and suffering that they must undergo everyday and it is their call never to submit or show any kind of fear or retaliation, this is so painful and stressing to the soldiers and the effects of these is indeed tangible. As for the weapons they can always be discarded or put down when the after exhaustion or seize fire but the emotions lie inside their hearts. Addressing fear, the narrator...

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