The Truth In O Brien's The Things They Carried

1994 Words 8 Pages
The Things They Carried is a fictional account of the nature of men during the Vietnam War. The power of the novel comes from the blurring of the line between fiction and non-fiction. O’Brien used his actual memoir as a Vietnam soldier with a collection of what appears to be fictional short stories that he attributed to the members of his platoon. This style of writing shows that sometimes a person 's subjective thoughts and feelings about an event, which O 'Brien calls story-truth, is more meaningful than an objective factual account of the events, which O 'Brien calls happening-truth.
O 'Brien blurs the line between fact and fiction right from the start when O 'Brien dedicates the novel to the individual soldiers in his platoon, which the
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The United States involvement during the Vietnam War brought on disagreements over how the war should be fought and even if we should be there at all. In The Things They Carried, O’Brien puts himself and his characters in the middle of this debate, using persuasive descriptions and images like bringing a civilian, Mary Anne, into the war. "What happened to her, Rat said, was what happened to all of them. You come over clean and you get dirty and then afterwards it 's never the same. A question of degree. Some make it intact; some don 't make it at …show more content…
The first idea was the conflict Kiowa had within himself as an American soldier. O 'Brien points out the conflict of being a Native American whose ancestors had fought the White Man. "Kiowa, a devout Baptist, carried an illustrated New Testament that had been presented to him by his father, who taught Sunday school in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma. As a hedge against bad times, however, Kiowa also carried his grandmother 's distrust of the white man, his grandfather 's old hunting hatchet." President Truman signed the order to desegregate the military in 1948. The last segregated unit was disbanded in 1954. Full desegregation of the military was not considered complete until 1963. Even in 1968, there was still a lot of racial friction in the ranks. O 'Brien used "White Man 's" New Testament and "Native America 's" hatchet to symbolize the emotional baggage Kiowa was carrying. The other idea was how much responsibility a soldier had for the loss of a fellow soldier. Lieutenant Cross blamed himself because he "he knew for a fact that he had made a mistake setting up here. The order had come from higher, true, but still he should 've exercised some field discretion. He should 've moved to higher ground for the night, should 've radioed in false coordinates. There was nothing he could do now, but still it was a mistake and a hideous waste." Lieutenant Cross went on to compose a letter to his

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