The Point of View in O'Brien’s The Things They Carried

            The book The Things They Carried was written Tim Obrein in 1990 that was among the American troops who took part during the Vietnam. It is based on true story Obrien’s truth memories and fiction. O’brien is the protagonist and the story is closely related to other memoirs of soldiers who have taken part in several wars. The book gives various short stories  of accounts by men who were foot soldiers during the war in Alpha Company. The main characters in the book includeTim O'Brien, Lt. Jimmy Cross, Bob "Rat" Kiley, and Norman Bowker, among others.The stories about life of the soldiers after the war are also explained. The most evident things about the war include the manner in which the war was ambiguous, inability to communicate basic truths, and inability by the soldiers to collect facts about the war, and the way in which the soldiers were alienated by the soldiers. This essay evaluates the major two major themes in the book.

            In respect to the name given to the book by Obrien, The Things They Carried, the main theme revolves around the emotional and physical burdens that the soldiers carried during and after their service in the Army. The soldiers carried many heavy loads, while their emotional loads comprised of longing, desperation, grief, and terror. Through the story given by Obrien, it is apparent that the emotional stress exceeds the physical stress. This is evident in the case of Henry Dobbins carries his girlfriend’s pantyhose all through the war. This indicates that he misses her and longs for her love. For the men in charge of the troops, like      Jimmy Cross, they have carry additional physical loads comprising of maps and compasses, ,which they have to refer to in efforts to navigate in the rough foreign terrain. Every member of the Alpha Company is has some degree of fear; however, soldiers are not required to display any degree of fear. This is because that makes them vulnerable, and thus makes other soldiers cruel.

After the war, many soldiers suffer post-traumatic stress because they continue to recall their experiences in the war. “Posttraumatic symptoms greatly compound the stress of readjustment (Zayfert and DeViva 194). The survivors continue to grief, confusion, and guilt as they come in terms with the war experience. Jimmy Cross love for Ted Lavender makes him never to forgive himself for the death of his friend. Norman Bowker level of confusion and grief is so strong that he drives around their home talking about courage. While some wars suffer the psychological burdens alone, others are able to share with others, and thereby relieve themselves. Obrien shares with the readers of the book about his war experience, this is evident in “By telling stories, you objectify your own experience. You separate it from yourself. You pin down certain truths. You make up others” (Obrien 152); however, Boker keeps his emotional burdens within himself.

            Another theme that is evident as the driver for motivation in for the soldiers is  Obrien’s book is fear of shame. This is evident in “They carried the soldier’s greatest fear, which was the fear of blushing. Men killed, and died…” (Obrien 20). It is evident that the soldiers fear for failure and fear to be ashamed among ones,peers drives them to strive to achieve their goals of serving the Americans. For example, in the story of On The Rainy River, Obrien does not find the justification the war, however, because he does not to appear a coward among his peers, he has to pursue the course. Obrien is not stopped from fleeing into Canada in pursuit of his country’s  course, but because of his concern for his family and the community perception of him. Therefore, the conflict between personal goals and those of the society are clearly displayed. The fear of shame drives the soldiers into Vietnam, but also fear about their relationship with one another. Concern about social acceptance by the soldiers is such a big issue that makes some make some dangerous tactics. There are strange acts such as Lemon way of having his tooth removed in efforts to reduce the chances of fainting.

Through the book by Obrien, it is evident that the he is able to display what the o the Americans went through during the war in Vietnam. The psychological effects of the soldiers are evident and Obrien is able to display that in an impeccable. Through the book, it is evident that the physical and psychological burdens are evident in the book. More so, fear remains the most dramatic force that united the soldiers. Nonetheless, the fear caused some conflicts of conflict between the soldiers inner thoughts and those of serving their country and the society. 

 

 

Works Cited

Obrien, Tim. The Things They Carried: A Work of Fiction. Boston: Houghton Mifflin, 1990. Internet resource

Zayfert, Claudia &DeViva, Jason C. When Someone You Love Suffers from Posttraumatic Stress: What to Expect and What You Can Do. NY: Guilford Press, 2011. Print.