Personal Possessions In Tim O Brien's The Things They Carried

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To have a possession is to have control or ownership of something whether it be a materialistic or non-materialistic item. Personal possessions allows us to have a sense of control over something in uncontrollable situations, even when we do not have control of ourselves. In the shorty story, “The Things They Carried”, the author Tim O’Brien used detailed imagery to show how personal possessions, physical objects, reflects the internal objects they desperately try to hold on to. O’Brien describes some of the things his comrades carried stating, “Kiowa, a devoted Baptist carried an illustrated New Testament that had been presented to him by his father, who taught Sunday school in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma” (323), showing that Kiowa’s bible was …show more content…
Native Americans were forced to either follow the ideals of christianity or be ostracized by society completely. Although he was degraded by society, and even by his own comrades such as Boweker who states, “Thats a smart Indian. Shut up”, and “One thing I hate, it’s a silent Indian”(331-332), Kiowa continue to cling to the belief society enforced because it became a part of him much like his Native heritage. O’Brien also states, “Kiowa carried his grandmother’s distrust of the white man, his grandfather’s hunting hatchet. Necessity dictated” (323), signifying Kiowa’s detachment from the group, where O’Brien explains how Kiowa did not have the same feelings as regards to Ted Lavender’s death like the rest of his comrades. Similar to how they treated the enemy, Kiowa was also treated as if he was beneath them not only in war, but also back home. So the only thing Kiowa had to rely on was his faith and the idea of ‘what would be the “christian” thing to do?’. Not only was his Bible his connection to his home, and a sense of protection, it was also his guide on how to react to the unpredictable events of war. In the New Testament, Jesus uses words to get his point across and taught forgiveness, where even though he was betrayed, he still hd a responsibility to take care of mankind. Kiowa is similar because although some of his comrades do not treat him as an equal he …show more content…
Kiowa always took along his New Testament and a pair of Moccasins” (326), O’Brien’s use of this imagery depicts Kiowa’s split identity where he is torn between his true identity as a Native American and his social identity of a Christian American. His father raised him to be devoted to christianity, yet, he still seem to hold on to his heritageas a Native American, and although he does not show it openly it still plays a role in his overall identity. Kiowa split identity also showed how Native Americans suffered so much in the past, and were even forced to follow the ideals of their oppressors, developed survival instincts where they merely appreciated the fact that they were alive. So when he tries to convey the “christian” like expectations he has trouble because he cannot help but feel happy to be alive, while his comrades feel guilty to be alive, taking on the burden of another comrade’s

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