Sunday, January 16, 2011

The Things They Carried

The Things They Carried, by Tim O’Brien, is a novel centered around a group of American soldiers fighting in Vietnam. The protagonist of the story, Tim O’Brien, tells the story of the things that he remembers from the war through a series of vignettes. The book is extremely poignant, as one of the first things to occur is the death of one of his squadmates, and the effect that the death has on the whole dynamic of the squad. The author O’Brien concentrates more on the soldiers and less on the political or moral aspects of Vietnam, and throughout the novel he uses everyday objects and actions to help humanize the characters that he has created for this story. One of the most important recurring themes in the story deals with the emotions of the soldier, and it is evident how Vietnam has had a profound effect on the protagonist O’Brien as he is haunted by the ghosts of his former brothers in arms whilst he tries to rationalize the war to himself. Eventually, he is forced to return to Vietnam to face his demons and finally become at peace with himself, although it is ambiguous whether he shall succeed or be forever tormented by grief.


1. If you went to war and you saw your friends die as O'Brien did, do you think you would ever be able to recover?

2. Do you think it's important for novels like The Things They Carried to be written to help better understand war, or is it a waste because it is fiction?

25 comments:

Megan D. 11-12 said...

Having to watch someone you care about die would probably be one of the most traumatic events imaginable. That being said, I would be impossible to be completely the same after such an event. If I had to watch someone I loved die I believe I would recover to the point of being functional, but the way I viewed the world and behaved would change. Like O'Brein, I would probably have nightmares. I think I would also keep my distance from people, afraid of having to lose anyone else in that manner.

Novels like this are very important. The show the human side of war; they omit the mirage of glory and honor that so often shroud war. This novel shows the nightmares and horrific phantoms that haunt the glorious heroes of war. War stories like this highlight the sheer depression and grief that is oftentimes masked by fanfare and the victors celebrations.

Cieran B. 5-6 said...

1. As tramatic as losing a friend would be i think it would be necessary to recover from the experience to focus on others that need your help for it would be what your friend would have wanted you to do.

Erika B 13-14 said...

Just because a book is fictional does not mean it is a "waste." Many fictional novels have some sort of meaning to them, or in this case are trying to show the evils of war. We must take these symbols and inner meanings from fictional novels and apply them in real life, so by showing us the tragedies that follow with war, O'Brien wants us to understand that war always results with negative experiences.

Dana G. 13-14 said...

I think that novels should be written to show readers what war is really about because so many people so not really know. There are many video games that have a war theme that are most likely not like the real thing, so these novels will show readers how it really is

Alexander C. [13-14] said...

This type of novel dramatizes the idea and actions of war. This is sometimes needed for people who don't always want the nonfiction end of the story. Some may want the inflated version where there may be more action than the real one.
If I ever had the opportunity to see my buddies die straight down in the muck of war, I would be furious. I would want to do whatever it would take to avenge their deaths. I would have to learn how to recover because if I couldn't than I would not be able to fight my way back to survival on the battle field. I would have to think about my friends and family and hope to get out alive to live a better life with them.

Kelsey M. 11/12 said...

1) I would probably never be able to get over seeing my friends die at war. This is why so many soldiers have Post Dramatic Stress Disorder. You keep reliving things you saw over and over. They have nightmares and sometimes end up hurting their own families due to hallucinations. Many people have to learn to deal with the after effects through therapy, but I think it would be very hard to do so. There is really no way to erase those memories, and you will most likely remember them with the greatest detail because they were so life changing.

Joe K. 11-12 said...

I dont feel as though I would ever be able to recover. Seeing people die is an exteremly difficult thing to witness. Seeing people you love, friends you care about is images that you will never be able to let go. No matter how many times you try to let go, I feel like those deaths will forever be carried with you.

McKenzieM 11-12 said...

I agree, I dont think you can ever fully recover from something as bad as that. I feel like I would never be able to get over something that tragic, and just think about it constantly.

Steve S 13-14 said...

I don't think I would recover, but I know that I would move on. It would be heartbreaking and traumatic, but I think I could trudge on

It is most definitely important for these kinds of novels to be written. they help people who have never experienced war to know the true horrors of it

LibbyS5/6 said...

no, i would never be able to recover because my friends are people that i depend on for everything and losing them would be hard enough, but actually seeing them die and knowing there wasn't anything i could do to stop it would be unbearable.

Bojana D 11.12 said...

1. As everyone else said, it would be devastating to see someone, especailly a friend or family member, die. I don't think I would ever be able to recover. I feel like I would just have play backs of it over and over again. It gives me the chills thinking about it.

2. I think these types of novels do help people understand certain aspects of war better. Fiction books aren't a waste. They can relate to real life sitations so easily and they often do.

Mrs. Sherwood said...

Thread graded, closed.

Vanessa D. 13-14 said...

1.) If I went to war and I saw a friend of mine die, I think I would be able to accept it eventually, but I don't think I would ever fully recover. My best friend and I always have fun when we are together and we tell each other everything, and losing her would be one of the worst things imaginable.

Laura B. 13-14 said...

1) I believe that having anyone that dies, no matter how far you travel, affects you personally. I don't think that anyone ever truly is able to recover from a loss of a friend they are just able to accept it as a new change within their life.

Julie S. 5-6 said...

In answer to the first question I think that I would be able to recover enough to survive in the world but not enough to be the same. It would definitely change me and I would never forget the things I saw. I think that it would be in the back of my mind everytime I was having a good time that those men lost out on that for no reason other than wrong place at the wrong time.
I think it is important that books like these are written because even though they are fiction they give you a look at what being in a war like that is like.

tyler k 13-14 said...

Answering question one, i would feel extremely guilty i survived but my friends didn't. I really dont feel i would ever be able to fully recover.

Kali D. 13-14 said...

1. I think it would take a very long time to fully recover from something that dramatic as seeing your friends die. I would have guilt, and it would completely change me as a person.

Leah A 5-6 said...

1. I don't believe that I would be able to recover. I would always remember that incident and think about the "what if's." My friends are very close to me and I could not even imagine losing someone. I don't think I would be the same person after that, it would change me mentally.

Leah A 5-6 said...

1. I don't believe that I would be able to recover. I would always remember that incident and think about the "what if's." My friends are very close to me and I could not even imagine losing someone. I don't think I would be the same person after that, it would change me mentally.

Natalie S Mods 5-6 said...

1) If I went to war and saw my friends die, I do not think I would ever be able to recover. I think those events would mentally scar me for life and change my outlook on things. I think that witnessing death in general changes a persons perspective on life significantly, so I imagine seeing someone that you care for die must be horribly painful. I think if I ever did get over it, it would take me a very long time.
2)I think it is important for books like this to be written. Some people do not understand all of the gory details of war. Many video games and movies glorify war heroes and minimize death. Novels like this can help the readers see how terrible and damaging war really is without having to encounter it first-hand.

Greg P. 13-14 said...

If I was the only one to survive I would feel guilty. No matter how much you try to forget and accept what happened, i dont think i get get rid of the guilt

Dana G. 13-14 said...

Answer to question one. I would eventually relax about the situation, but I would not ever forget what I saw. For a long time the image would be replaying in my head.

Sarah 5-6 said...

To answer question 1: If I was to see a good friend die in war I would probably never be the same. That same scenario happened to my uncle in a war and he still has nightmares about it. I mean, I guess it could all depend on who you are and how you take dramatic things like that. I just know personally I wouldn't be the same after witnessing something that devastating.

Dana D 11-12 said...

1. I think that watching anyone die would affect your life. I don't know if it's something you "recover" from though. It's just an unfortunate experience that shapes who you are.

Mrs. Sherwood said...

Thread closed