Imagination: An Analysis Of Tim O Brien's The Things They Carried

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The Power of Imagination: An Analysis of Tim O’Brien’s The Things They Carried
What would the world be without the power of imagination? If you have ever pondered this thought, you may relate to Tim O’Brien, the author of the novel The Things They Carried. As a soldier in the gruesome Vietnam War, Tim O’Brien suffers physically, mentally, and emotionally from the effects of the war. From witnessing fellow friends being shot and wounded, to trying to locate and rescue a good friend’s dead body, one can only imagine the effects that these situations would have on a soldier. O’Brien utilizes imagination to establish the horror of war, to uncover uncertainties, and to escape from the war’s sickening events. He leaves the reader with a question
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Many veterans from the war tend to not speak of the war, considering many did not agree with the need to fight in it. Tim O’Brien shared this opinion throughout his novel. O’Brien explains, “I was too good for this war. Too smart, too compassionate, too everything.” (39). Despite O’Brien’s thoughts on the war, he still had to fight. With the use of raw descriptions, the reader is capable to imagine what it would be like to be involved in a war. For example, O’Brien states in the novel that one of the Vietnam soldiers “lay with one leg bent beneath him, his jaw in his throat, his face neither expressive nor inexpressive.” (124). Utilizing the use of exaggeration in his descriptions, O’Brien is able to tug on the reader’s emotions. This causes the reader to be capable of imagining the pain, fear, and other various emotions that the soldiers are facing throughout the war. For readers to generate the understanding the trauma of the war, the story “must ‘burn so hot’ when it is told that it becomes alive for the listener/reader” (Kaplan). As much as Tim O’Brien illustrates the reality of the Vietnam War, there are also many uncertainties pertaining to his experience of the …show more content…
This is no different than Tim O’Brien’s experience with the Vietnam War. Due to the severity of the violent situations soldiers are faced with, they tend to ignore the things that they see as if they did not truly happen. In the situation of the soldier telling a war story, the tragic events that they shut out of their memories end up creating holes in their war story. In order to reveal the truth of the story, the soldier must fill in the gaps. This is where imagination comes into play. As O’Brien expresses in the novel, “the memory-traffic feeds into a rotary up on your head, where it goes in circles for a while, then pretty son imagination flows in and the traffic merges and shoots off down a thousand different streets.” (33). When relying on imagination to express the true events of life, there is a chance that the facts could be wrong. To shine light upon the truth of the events O’Brien faced, he uses multiple perspectives in hopes for the reader to become more aware of the accurate event. Although the novel is told from different perspectives, “it begins to become apparent that there is no such thing for O’Brien as the full and exact truth.” (Kaplan). The truth of the physical events is not required to understand what the soldiers were forced to handle. The use of imagination is used not for a literal sense. Instead, it is utilized to “get closer to the meaning of emotion and spiritual truth.” (Krajeck). This allows the

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