Point Of Views In Tim O Brien's The Things They Carried

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“The Things They Carried” by Tim O’Brien explores the thin line between sane and insane as soldiers walk through a war-torn Vietnam, feeling their love and longing- for some- turn to hatred and guilt, and calling into question one lieutenant’s priorities and the value of the burdens his men bear. While it is hard to determine the exact point of view in this story, the point of view is still very important to it. The point of view lends to itself a closeness, an intimacy within the story, in such a way that the narrator might be perceived as another soldier, rather than an omniscient presence. No matter how the narrator is felt, O’Brien describes the realities of war in a unique way- up close and personal. How else would someone know in such …show more content…
That line is the difference between sane and insane. “A balance between crazy and almost crazy (O 'Brien).” Coming from the narrator’s perspective, we are given no clues about the condition of his mind, so we are left to draw conclusions from the description of the other men. Kiowa, whose characterization suggests a Native American heritage, is an accurate example of how death affects the mind. After one of the other men in his company, Ted Lavender, was shot and killed, kept repeating the words, “Boom, down. Not a word (O 'Brien).” to himself and to anyone who would listen. It was his way of processing Lavender’s death. Another soldier, Rat Kiley, replicated these actions with his own phrase, “The guy’s dead. I mean really, the guy’s dead (O 'Brien).” which suggests he was also ill-prepared for the horrors of war. These examples both illustrate the intimacy with which the narrator speaks, describing the burden of casualties of war, while still leaving room for the all-knowing narrator to spell out the details of how a proximate death affects those …show more content…
The narrator shows how difficult and treacherous and burdening war is, so why are soldiers treated as expendable? As exhibited in O’Brien’s pragmatic tale, these soldiers are tasked with duties that the average person would immediately balk at, because those assignments are often destructive- not only to the people and environments around the soldiers, but to themselves as well. When men are shipped off to foreign lands, they become enmeshed in a whole new world, and feel very isolated from their home. The narrator, whether profoundly far away or intimately close, seems to be trying to present the fact that there is a palpable inhumanity associated with, and expected in war. O’Brien’s narrative in particular portrays the weight of war very well, not only the burden of their packs, and the heaviness of their hearts and minds, but also the knowledge that “…there was at least the single abiding certainty that they would never be at a loss for things to carry (O 'Brien).” which in itself strips these weary soldiers of hope. Fortunately, Lieutenant Cross decides his men- and he himself- “…would get their shit together, and keep it together… (O 'Brien)”, further demonstrating his determination to prevent history from repeating itself. The narrator does a brilliant job of showing the reader the struggles of Cross’ platoon, conveying the feeling of both being there as another soldier, and as an omniscient chronicler where no detail or fact is spared;

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