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?