Theme Of Shame In The Things They Carried

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What is the limit of pain one feels from being ashamed? Shame is powerful motivator that can lead one to make life changing decisions. Tim O’Brien’s autobiographical war novel, The Things They Carried, details the motivation and the effects of shame soldiers faced during the Vietnam war. The Vietnam war, lasting from 1955 to 1975, was fought between North Vietnam and South Vietnam over the idea of communism and capitalism. As North and South Vietnam joined with allies to try to defeat each other, the United States was pulled in to support South Vietnam. Boys as young as eighteen years old were then quickly and forcefully drafted into the war. The war eventually traumatized and ruined the emotional and physical identities of these young men …show more content…
Soldiers felt forced to participate in the war to avoid the shame and embarrassment from friends, family, and others familiar with them. They each are embarrassed for different reasons. One isn’t brave enough, while one isn’t smart enough. One isn’t tough enough, while one isn’t satisfied enough. O’Brien demonstrates that he is able to tell his story, twenty years later, due to the fact that he realized that facing one’s fears may be difficult, but it dissolve the shame that is felt before it. Shame and Guilt attacked the men during the war, as well as before the war. It made them do many crazy things that would have big future impacts. In "The Dentist," Curt Lemon faces his shame, but also severely hurts himself while doing it. Throughout the war, survivor's guilt lives with many soldiers for the rest of their lives, similar to Tim O’Brien and Norman Bowker. Bowker is one who is unable to forget about not winning The Silver Star of Valo, disappointing his father, and other personal things which eventually leads him to hang himself. Tim O’Brien insinuates through these stories, that shame and guilt are very powerful motivators for wrong, dangerous, and painful decisions that will affect one for the rest of their life. Fear and Shame go hand and hand when it comes to affecting a person mentally. The men of the Vietnam war were already traumatized, at as young as eighteen, that they couldn’t handle any extra fear, embarrassment, or shame. This is the cause of many suicides or self-harming committed by soldiers who were previously in the war. This teaches the reader to be careful to what one exposes themselves to and to also be cautious to how one treats others because anyone could be experiencing large amount of emotional pain of shame, guilt, and embarrassment. Shame is a strong motivator that can affect one’s life in an instant. Tim O’Brien in, The Things They Carried, tells the many

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