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Justifying the inside fear in The Things They Carried


Both The Important Things They Carried and Armageddon Now explore the injury of the Vietnam War and its impact on soldiers’ worries. Similar characters appear in both works, their identities crafted to represent different elements of human nature. The protagonists, Captain Willard and Tim O’Brien, tell frame stories through their own perspectives, offering the audience windows to the regret and hollowness, death and savagery swarming in war-torn Vietnam. Each discovers himself suffocated by regret, choking at an explanation for the endless, meaningless death and violence. Similarly, Chef, the personal on Willard’s boat, and Curt Lemon of O’Brien’s squad mirror each other with their immaturity, their carefree rambunctious habits and their gruesome, avoidable deaths. With the lead character of each story as its guide, the audience analyzes the degree to which fear and primal impulses take in the soldiers in the jungle. Worry in the hearts of men grows unrestricted in each work, as both Willard and O’Brien make every effort to inform their stories as much as to soothe their own fear of regret and responsibility regarding discuss the worry of others. The two works spin noticeably similar stories of madness, regret, and injury, albeit through different media.

At first, the approaches of storytelling used by each lead character seem to be completely different: Willard’s relocations with the action, a very first person account of the happenings as they happen, while O’Brien’s jumps around from being with the action to reflecting upon it twenty years later. However, drawn from a different angle, Willard’s narration reveals as much reflection on occasions and personal feeling as O’Brien’s. Both narrators are jaded by the action they have seen, displayed by the method each can quickly determine what sorts of individuals make his business. O’Brien evaluates each of his characters through descriptions of their personal belongings and routines, eventually crafting a telling picture of each male. Likewise, Willard introduces the team of his ship by painting their identities with a broad brush: Lance, the young surfer, Chef, the down south saucier, and so on. As they move from soldier to soldier, Willard and O’Brien produce enduring images in the mind of the audience, colorful personas that command pity, sympathy, and loathing.

Both Willard and O’Brien have difficulty understanding the opponent. When reading the file on Kurtz, Willard’s voiceover exposes his thoughts and feelings about Kurtz’s life and unexpected, erratic choices; in “Ambush,” O’Brien does the very same when speaking about the male he killed. O’Brien attempts to envision what the male’s life would have resembled were it not for the grenade, and even offers an unbiased perspective and he hypothetically tells the story to his child. The mix of surmise and neutrality of O’Brien’s account in “Ambush” bears resemblance to Willard’s interactions with Kurtz. Like O’Brien, Willard attempts to put himself in Kurtz’s shoes, questioning if the thirst for action could turn him native and savage, as it did the colonel. Yet in each case, the protagonist fails when attempting to comprehend his opponent, and basically makes the title “opponent” a misnomer. Illuminating one of the issues with the idea of war, both Willard and O’Brien sympathize with the men they are orders to kill and include difficulty to an easy task. The struggle to rationalize the act of killing is hardest for O’Brien, as the Vietnamese man was an innocent compared to the monster of Colonel Kurtz. Willard, on the other hand, sympathizes with Kurtz due to the fact that he has taken the exact same course as his enemy, and feels the very same capacity for wicked within himself. In both works, the frame story structure reveals the efforts of the lead character to justify the scary around them.

Worry, the inspiration of survival, has a noticable role in both Armageddon Now and The Things They Carried. Their machismo makes soldiers try to mask their fear, thereby enabling it to grow within them. Trying to deny their fear makes soldiers act illogically, nearly turning them “savage” in the end. As O’Brien explains in “The Dentist”, Curt Lemon insists on having a completely great tooth pulled since he fears ridicule by his peers and superiors so deeply. He had shamed himself by fainting throughout a regular military checkup and required to recover his strength by revealing that he could stand up to the pulling of a tooth, no matter whether or not he required that tooth to be pulled. Likewise, Lemon’s last action– playing catch with a hand grenade– highlights the juxtaposition of war and friendship, the morbid fun in which the soldiers engage to sustain an impression of security.

Simply as Lemon’s intrinsic worry causes him to act in ridiculous ways, so does that of Chef, the saucier onboard Willard’s boat. Chef’s death at the hands of Kurtz’s savages takes place off screen, resulting in a scene depicting his mangled remains. Like Lemon’s death, Chef’s is short and gruesome, and overshadows the rest of his life. Prior to his gruesome exit, Chef loses touch with reality on the river when he chooses to look for fruit in the jungle. As Chef and Willard run off into opponent area, risking their lives just to search for mangoes, they too send their will to the illogical judgment of worry. The fear inside them, stoked by the savage enthusiasms of the jungle and the war around them, instills and Chef and Willard the desire for safety, the need to go back to familiar surroundings to lighten the injury of Vietnam. The jungle’s wildness consumes them on this ineffective mission, and the two soldiers leave from a tiger. The tiger, like the grenade, provides a force of reckoning to the males. It destroys the illusion of safety produced by short-term peace, the lull in between bouts of combat. The tiger throws Chef and Willard back into awful reality, and the males forget their mangoes back on the Me-Kong. Their worries, and those of all soldiers, ultimately boil down to something– the worry of death.

As their fears deepen in the forests of Vietnam, all the guy ended up being less human. In O’Brien’s stories, oblivious actions expose the savage nature a few of the males have established. Kiley blows his own toe off to get out of action, for example, and Lee Strunk asks Jensen to spare his life regardless of their pact. Armageddon Now dives much further into the development of worry, as Kurtz represents a personification of fear itself. When a significant, extremely respected war hero, Colonel Kurtz devolves into a mind irreparably twisted and contorted by fear and evil. Kurtz’s evil forces Willard to think about whether he himself has the capability for the very same. Though O’Brien’s stories posses absolutely nothing as cohesive as the fear combined in Kurtz, much of their characters embody similar characteristics. Azar, for example, exudes wholly mercenary qualities throughout much of his time, showing blatant disregard for the value of life before showing deference to Kiowa’s memory.

In the end, both psychological and physical survival depends upon soldiers’ ability to sort out his worries. O’Brien does this through his composing, feeling that protecting the memories of fallen pals can minimize his guilt. Willard, nevertheless, sends to his worries, fulfilling his duty and slaying the wicked Kurtz. Leaving the colonel’s temple shirtless and sweating, chest heaving in the heat of the jungle and wild eyes flashing upon legions of native individuals, he resembles an idol. As he mutters the same last words Kurtz did– “The scary”– Willard demonstrates how the experience has changed him. While O’Brien exorcized his worries by writing about them, Willard’s clearly remain.

The war itself is worthy of credit for any resemblances in between these two works. War, as an organization, commands guys to act against their nature. Men are not expected to kill each other for reasons unknown, blow off their own toes to leave conflict, or remove their own excellent teeth. They are not expected to install severed human heads on posts or annihilate a village so one male can surf. War makes them do these things. Apocalypse Now and The Important Things They Carried look carefully at how war twists the mind of a soldier, magnifying his fears into madness. Using comparable characters and techniques, each work produces an unique picture of what war did to soldiers in Vietnam.

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