Tim O Brien Humanness Analysis

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Humanness is defined in the Oxford Dictionary as “a characteristic of people...especially in being susceptible to weakness.” The book The Things They Carried by Tim O’Brien highlights humanness through the portrayal of the Vietnam war through the experiences of separate soldiers. The excerpt this paper begins with a description of a man who had been killed by a hand grenade in eerie detail. O’Brien’s use of adjectives and nouns makes the story seem poetic and personal, making the passage deeply moving for the reader. The imagery used to describe the body forces the reader to visualize the dead man and internalize the weight of human life. Later in the excerpt, O’Brien fabricates the Vietnamese soldier’s identity and desires. The potential that O’Brien describes forces the readers to consider that human life is unilaterally valued on a fundamental level. O’Brien’s use of diction, imagery, and storytelling serves the purpose of making the reader of this excerpt think about the value placed on human life and the way we characterize others. …show more content…
In the excerpt, O’Brien says that the man’s “eye was a star-shaped hole.” The comparison of the man’s anatomy to a celestial body evokes a sense of wonder and longing inside the reader and places a personal value on a part of the man who was killed. Later in the excerpt again, O’Brien says that there “was a butterfly on his chin.” The placement of beauty atop tragedy makes the reader uncomfortable and creates an uneasy mood that forces the reader to reconsider how they feel about the people on the other side of the Vietnam War. The use of stars and insects to describe the injuries inflicted on this man draws personal emotion from the reader and thus adds value to the character’s life, and, therefore, the lives of countless other Vietnamese soldiers who had had been

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