The Things They Carried By Tim O ' Brien Essay

798 Words Apr 4th, 2016 4 Pages
Soldiers of the Vietnam War viewed it as a complicated and unwanted conflict, as illustrated in Tim O’Brien’s historical novel The Things They Carried. The soldiers in the book faced fear, pain, and death for a war they didn’t believe in; they killed and died because society taught them to place strength above all else. The Vietnam War introduced a pressure to aspire for masculinity and twisted love into obsession which shaped the beliefs, ideas, actions, and feelings of the soldiers in an irreversibly harmful way.

O’Brien uses masculinity as a driving force for the actions of all the soldiers. The desire for masculinity and fear of ridicule pushed many young men into the war, and resulted in a generation of men that "died and killed because they were too embarrassed not to" (O 'Brien 20). For example, the idea of being drafted scared Tim enough that he ran to the border between the US and Canada, but his desire to seem masculine in the eyes of his family and his town results in his return and eventual entrance into the military. In this case, his fear of retribution and loss of pride outweighs his fear of death, and he joins the war. In addition to this, he talks about how, later, men would shoot their foot so that they would be evacuated and taken out of service, even though it was usually temporary. He and the men criticize this as an easy way out. The soldiers voice this opinion as a way to distance themselves from the perceived cowardice, even though they were…

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