Essay on Literary Techniques in "The Things They Carried"

1298 Words Dec 17th, 2009 6 Pages
A literary technique is a device employed in literature to add depth to a writer’s work. These techniques can be obvious, such as the technique of rhyme in a poem, or subtle, such as juxtaposition, which can go unnoticed by the reader. In The Things They Carried, Tim O’Brien uses many such techniques to provide more depth to his book. Four literary techniques used by Tim O’Brien are symbolism, pathetic fallacy, irony, and juxtaposition. One literary technique prominent in The Things They Carried, particularly in the story by the same name, is symbolism. Throughout this story, O’Brien mentions all the things that the soldiers carry with them, both physical and emotional. However, the physical items that the men carried is more than just …show more content…
Another ironic idea within this story is the idea that war can be beautiful. “You hate it, yes, but your eyes do not. Like a forest fire, like cancer under a microscope, any battle...has...a powerful, implacable beauty” (81). This catches the reader off-guard because of how greatly it contrasts with the view of war we have been previously given. He continues to say that, “a true war story will tell the truth about this, though the truth is ugly” (81). This is very ironic because although the actual event may be beautiful, if a true story is told about it, the story is ugly. This adds to O’Brien’s point that telling a story, even a true one, can only take away from the truth of the event. Using irony, O’Brien can present his message in a creative an interesting way, and this helps the readers understand his point better. Another technique used by Tim O’Brien is juxtaposition. The story The Lives of the Dead seems to be a bit of a non-sequitur to the rest of the book, however, O’Brien has put it where it is for a reason. The point of The Things They Carried is not simply to tell stories about the Vietnam War- the lesson goes deeper than that. It comes to teach that war is about more than just fighting- it is about the connection between life and death. It is about learning to detach oneself from death. It is about the sacredness and fragility of life. It is about so

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