Tim O'Brien's the Things They Carried Essay

1569 Words Oct 22nd, 1999 7 Pages
Tim O'Brien's The Things They Carried is not a novel about the Vietnam War.

It is a story about the soldiers and their experiences and emotions that are brought

about from the war. O'Brien makes several statements about war through these dynamic

characters. He shows the violent nature of soldiers under the pressures of war, he

makes an effective antiwar statement, and he comments on the reversal of a social deviation

into the norm. By skillfully employing the stylistic technique of specific, conscious

detail selection and utilizing connotative diction, O'Brien thoroughly and convincingly makes

each point.

The violent nature that the soldiers acquired during their tour in Vietnam is

one of O'Brien's predominant themes
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The antiwar statement is enhanced by O'Brien's use of connotative and

informal diction to describe the war, its belligerent advocates, and its participants. The

connotation in the adjective American in describing the war seems as though O'Brien believes the

Americans are making the war revolve around themselves, instead of the Vietnamese.

While also criticizing Americans, he manages to once again question the necessity of

United States involvement in the war. Also connotatively enhancing the antiwar theme

is the word bodies to describe draftees; while an accurate evaluation scientifically, it

gives the reader the impression that the young men that are being brought into the war to

become statistics, part of a body count. O'Brien shows very effectively the massive

destruction of innocent human life brought on by Vietnam. In contrast with his

sympathy toward draftees, O'Brien utilizes informal, derogatory diction to describe the war's

advocates. He labels his stereotype belligerent a "dumb jingo"(44), or moronic

national pride enthusiast. By phrasing his views in such a manner, O'Brien is able to convey

the idea that there is enough opposition to the war that a negative slang has been

implemented frequently, hence the term dumb jingo. The skill with which O'Brien illustrates his

views is very convincing throughout their development in the novel; his antibelligerence

focus is very effective.


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