Cowardice, And Masculinity In The Things They Carried By Tim O Brien

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Courage, Cowardice, and Masculinity at War

Usually when people associate war to cowardness, courage, or masculinity, they think that going to war is courageous and manly and not going to war is being a coward. Tim O’Brien explains his own thoughts on this in his collection of short stories, The Things They Carried. His thoughts on what is cowardly and what is courageous are new and worth looking into. He proposes that someone could be both courageous and cowardly depending on how you think of the situation, like him going to war. Also that masculinity in war isn 't just normally masculine men being courageous on their own, but a response to the fear soldiers are overwhelmed with while at war. Tim O’Brien has very unique views on cowardness,
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It may be hard to picture cowardness and courageousness together, but war is where they can be together. Specifically, Tim O’Brien’s going to war story. In his book, The Things They Carried, he writes of when he gets his draft notice. Tim had just graduated from college, and he gets his draft notice. He thinks the war is wrong, but doesn 't want to skip out like a “coward”. He has the pressure of his community on him to go, but he does not want to make a decision if he will go this soon. As tim battles with his thoughts on fleeing or going to the war, the date of the draft is nearing. O’Brien finally reaches his breaking point and flees to the Canadian border to spend what comes to 6 days with a man named Elroy. During his stay, he is put in a very tough spot about whether to flee or to not flee,but he does end up coming home and going to the Vietnam. Now, the normally courageous thing to do is what he did, go to the war and serve his country. But Tim O 'Brien 's belief is that the cowardly thing to do was to give in and go to war. He let the opinions of other people in his hometown influence his decision. He wasn 't true to himself and let other people dictate what he did. The courageous thing to do according to Tim, would be to not worry about what other people think and live your own life how you want to. If that means fleeing from a war you don 't believe in, then you should do …show more content…
But in a non-war setting, do these men all act the same? Or is the war making them act this way? Tim O’Brien explains in his book that maybe war forces masculinity onto soldiers, out of fear and self consciousness put on by the other soldiers they’re with. Tim says in one of his stories, The Things They Carried, “It was very sad, he thought. The things men carried inside. The things men did or felt they had to do”(25). Some may say he is referring to what men did out of fear, making them attempt to feel more masculine while amidst the war. With all the intense experiences that come with war, it makes sense that the men involved will try to be more manly to cope. Or they can do crazy things like Kiley after his buddy, Curt Lemon died. In the story titled, How to Tell a True War Story, Kiley shoots a Viet Cong water buffalo multiple times, most likely out of anger or resentment of Lemon’s death or a letter he wrote to Lemon’s sister who didn 't reply. “He opened up a can of C rations, pork and beans, but the baby buffalo wasn’t interested. Rat shrugged. He stepped back and shot it through the right front knee.”(78). Kiley continues to shoot the baby buffalo after it keeps getting up. Either or, in a normal city setting, a person would not grieve like that. Since O’Brien and the other men were in a war setting, Kiley acted out in a fit of rage that no one would normally do. A war has an effect of

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