Death In The Things They Carried: A Literary Analysis

1293 Words 5 Pages
Death has been shown to split apart families, countries, and governments. In addition, death often causes widespread mourning and even panic. But there is never a focus on the beauty of dying itself. Most often, the depiction of dying focuses on the sadness associated with the concept of loss, while in The Things They Carried, Tim O’Brien takes a different stance on the depiction of passing. While most authors of war related literature use the idea of death to depict a somber mood, O’Brien utilizes the moment of death to portray the deeper theme that beauty can often be found in the most tragic events.
O’Brien’s descriptive characterization of Curt Lemon’s death helps to portray the beauty of passing which contrasts the somber attitude of
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This portrayal of the exact moment of death allows O’Brien to highlight the beauty in the process of dying, rather than dying as a whole. Additionally, this ironic characterization of sunlight in the face of a grenade explosion helps O’Brien demonstrate the transition from living to dying can be aesthetic rather than sad as shown in the poem “To Germany” by Charley Sorley. Sorley reflects on the passing of a soldier from an outsider’s point of view as he states “you only saw your future bigly planned…the darkness and the thunder and the rain” (Sorley 4-5). This depressing portrayal of death only adds to the context that the end of life in this war literature takes on a negative connotation as the author tries to prove that loss leads others to sadness and despair. O’Brien on the other hand, utilizes the characterization of Curt Lemon as “almost beautiful” to show that passing does not always have to be ugly, but can rather be a significant point in a soldier’s life, where the culmination of the beauty of life is …show more content…
O’Brien’s skillful writing creates a meaning for dying that contradicts that of the discussed war related literature. Overall, whereas the war related literature discussed focuses on the big picture of death leading to sadness and loss, O’Brien’s depiction of loss in the moment of death itself helps elucidate the idea that beauty can stem from even a traumatic experience like

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