Analysis of The Things They Carried by Tim O'Brien Essay

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Analysis of The Things They Carried by Tim O'Brien

In the book “The Things They Carried”, O’Brien uses imagery, figurative language and repetition to convey his message. O’Brien’s purpose for story telling, is to clear his conscience of war and to tell the stories of soldiers who were forgotten by society. Many young men were sent to war, despite opposing it. They believed it was “wrong” to be sent to their deaths. Sadly, no one realizes a person’s significance until they die. Only remembering how they lived rather than acknowledging their existence when they were alive.
O’Brien uses a lot of imagery and sensory detail in his stories, many of which make me wonder if these stories are in fact fiction. “His jaw was in his throat, his
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A lot of the quotes have “exaggerated” explanations. One of them is from the chapter “Ambush”. “I leaned back and felt my mind go empty and then felt it fill up again.” Pg. 133The quote is very detailed in the emotion O’Brien felt when he threw the grenade at the young man. It is complete shock at what he has done. He reacted by instinct. In war you can never be relaxed. You’re constantly on guard, paranoid that someone will kill you if you aren’t alert. By the time he realized what he did, it was already too late.
I think figurative language is used to explain what the soldiers felt. Feeling is an emotion and is difficult to explain with just words. Words such as “shocked” or “traumatized”, don’t thoroughly explain feeling. There just classifications of that feeling, a name. However when emphasized in figurative language, “felt my mind go empty” the reader is able to relate to the experience and in turn “know the feeling”. If it were to be explained in simple terms like “I was speechless”, it becomes “boring”. When expressed in specific detail the reader becomes entranced by the story and continues to read on. It is like a hook, but also a way to express one’s state of mind.
I’ve also noticed that O’Brien has repeated some stories several times. The story of Kiowa’s death has been repeated three times. Each of the stories is from a different perspective. Each story goes in depth of what the person was thinking when they saw Kiowa’s dead body. For some it was

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