What Means In Tim O Brien's The Things They Carried

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What lasts is what is written. “Stories are for joining the past to the future… Stories are for eternity, when memory is erased, when there is nothing to remember except the story,” according to Tim O’Brien who wrote the novel, The Things They Carried. People write for many different reasons; for enjoyment, for therapy, to share a story, etc. O’Brien writes as a way to process his memories of the war. He retains his experiences and keeps the dead alive through literature. Memories won’t last for eternity, but literature does. Both the writer and the reader look to literature to find the essence of an age. Doing so brings them a taste of what it is like to be put in a different time and place. For Tim and his readers, it places them in the …show more content…
But those stories he feeds the audience mix false information with real events. For Tim, blurring the line of distinction between fiction and nonfiction helps him direct the audience to each soldier and his particular view point, understanding, and emotional state during and after their war experiences. Listing the facts and events wouldn’t be his way of truly saving the experiences of each soldier but instead it would be like writing a history book. O’Brien stated on page 171 of the novel, “Story-truth is truer sometimes than happening truth.” Describing the experiences and making the readers feel the accurate emotions was far more important to him than what actually happened because, for him, the factual truth was not as important as the emotional truth. In one of his stories, he writes about the death of a friend, a soldier named Kiowa who dies tragically by sinking deep into a sewage field. Many of the soldiers who were present during Kiowa’s death had very different perspectives on the situation. The three different point of views that he included, since he was not present at the sight of Kiowa’s death, were from Lieutenant Cross, a young soldier, and the rest of the soldiers. All three of them had one attitude in common: they each felt that the death of Kiowa was their own fault, and that they carried a burden that would stick with …show more content…
Reading The Things They Carried is a novel that allows the readers to feel like they are part of his and other soldiers’ war experiences. O’Brien gave his audience a small taste of what it was like to experience the Vietnam War and the aftermath, by providing a great amount of sensory detail. Right off the bat, reading the first chapter, you can already understand what the soldiers figuratively and literally carried. He described how each soldier carried the psychological, the physical weight, and the emotional burdens of the war. For me, being a non-witness to the war, I still was able to perceive these stories as if they were occurring right in front of me. O’Brien added on page 20, “They carried all the emotional baggage of men who might die. Grief, terror, love, longing, cowardliness, shameful memories… the heaviest burden of all…their reputations.” The majority of readers will at one point in their life experience a few of these emotional burdens. Being able to relate to the soldiers at similar level helps the readers truly understand parts of the soldiers’ war experiences. Finding the essence of an age through O’Brien’s novel of his and his soldiers experiences, saved the memories and kept the spirits of the dead

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