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Literary Techniques in “The Things They Carried”


A literary strategy is a gadget used in literature to include depth to an author’s work. These techniques can be obvious, such as the strategy of rhyme in a poem, or subtle, such as juxtaposition, which can go unnoticed by the reader. In The Things They Brought, Tim O’Brien utilizes numerous such techniques to offer more depth to his book.

4 literary methods used by Tim O’Brien are significance, worthless fallacy, irony, and juxtaposition. One literary method popular in The important things They Carried, particularly in the story by the very same name, is importance.

Throughout this story, O’Brien discusses all the important things that the soldiers carry with them, both physical and emotional. However, the physical items that the guys carried is more than simply devices- they are symbols that represent numerous facets of each soldier’s character. For instance, “Rat Kiley brought … morphine and plasma and malaria tablets and surgical tape … and all the things a medic must bring, including M&M’s for especially bad injuries” (O’Brien 5).

The reality that Kiley brought medical needs shows that he is an excellent paramedic dedicated to doing his task well, but the M&M’s represent something different- Kiley’s positive and kind outlook on the war and life in general. Conversely, the tranquilizers carried by Ted Lavender represent his fear of the combating in the war and his failure to deal with reality, rather selecting to escape from it by taking drugs. This is an effective technique because, by using these symbols, O’Brien can let the reader find out for him/herself deeper elements of certain characters’ characters without really mentioning them outright.

Another literary gadget Tim O’Brien employs is useless fallacy, or nature mirroring human beings’ feelings. In the story Speaking of Courage, Norman Bowker tries to save Kiowa’s life but stops working. He ends up being depressed and remorseful about what he ought to have had the ability to accomplish. For a long time later, Bowker has problem with the reality that he was “braver than he ever thought possible, but … not so brave as he wanted to be” (153 ); he is gotten rid of with unhappiness and guilt. This is shown in the weather condition at the time of Kiowa’s death.

The soldiers were encamping in a field along the Tune Tra Bong, and “the rain kept worsening. And by midnight the field turned into soup” (145 ). The rain replicates the feelings of the weary and despondent soldiers. Pitiful misconception is an extremely helpful method since it helps to offer the tone for the story. If the story was an unfortunate one however the weather condition was brilliant and bright, the tone of the story would be incorrect, and vice versa. In Speaking of Courage, the truth that it was raining throughout the centerpiece of the story assists the reader gain and understanding of simply how bleak and depressing the occasions that occurred were.

Irony, or an inconsistency in between expectation and truth, is another literary technique utilized by Tim O’Brien in The Important Things They Brought. Much of the titles of the stories consist of paradox themselves. For example, Speaking of Nerve is more centred on the styles of failure and the inability to be courageous than it has to do with nerve. The story Love is not, as it would appear, about shared love, however rather unrequited love. Excursion, an expression with a typically extremely favorable undertone, is a story about a visit to a battleground where many lives had been lost.

The Story How to Tell a Real War Story likewise includes much paradox within it. The bottom line of this story is that a real war story can not be informed since the simple act of informing it makes it false. The title of this story is paradoxical- O’Brien makes the reader believe that he wishes to advise them how to inform a true war story, however the reader soon learns O’Brien’s real intent- that informing a real war story is impossible. Another ironic concept within this story is the concept that war can be gorgeous. You dislike it, yes, but your eyes do not. Like a forest fire, like cancer under a microscopic lense, any fight … has … an effective, implacable beauty” (81 ). This captures the reader off-guard because of how considerably it contrasts with the view of war we have actually been formerly provided. He continues to state that, “a real war story will tell the truth about this, though the fact is ugly” (81 ). This is very paradoxical since although the real occasion might be gorgeous, if a true story is outlined it, the story is awful.

This contributes to O’Brien’s point that narrating, even a true one, can just take away from the truth of the occasion. Using paradox, O’Brien can present his message in an innovative an intriguing method, and this helps the readers comprehend his point better. Another method used by Tim O’Brien is juxtaposition. The story The Lives of the Dead appears to be a little bit of a non-sequitur to the rest of the book, however, O’Brien has put it where it is for a factor. The point of The Things They Carried is not simply to inform stories about the Vietnam War- the lesson goes much deeper than that.

It pertains to teach that war is about more than simply combating- it is about the connection in between life and death. It has to do with finding out to remove oneself from death. It is about the sacredness and fragility of life. It is about a lot of things that many individuals never need to experience. But the Vietnam War is not O’Brien’s first time coming into contact with these sort of concerns. As a kid, he had a precious buddy called Linda who died of cancer. Linda’s death was a major part of his growing up process.

As a kid, he currently needed to learn to distance himself from her death, stating, “It didn’t seem genuine … the girl lying in the white coffin wasn’t Linda” (241 ). And although he did not recognize it at the time, her death helped him to deal with all the deaths he came across in the war. For instance, when Curt Lemon dies, O’Brien declines to see his body as a good friend who died. Instead he says, “his body was not truly a body, but rather one small bit of waste in the middle of a much larger wastage” (238 ).

The lessons that O’Brien discovered as a kid are really appropriate and linked to his experiences in the Vietnam War, which is why he picks to include The Lives of the Dead. But this is not the only message that O’Brien wants us to secure of the inclusion The Lives of the Dead in The Important Things They Brought- he wishes to communicate that even though something that occurs in one’s life might appear horrible and meaningless, it might end up being of usage to him or her later in life, and it might assist him or her to get through an otherwise uncontrollable time.

O’Brien wants his reader to understand that everything in life comes for a function. Throughout The Things They Brought, Tim O’Brien makes use of several literary strategies. In the story The Things They Carried, O’Brien utilizes importance. In Mentioning Courage, the literary technique is pathetic fallacy. Irony is used in How to Tell a True War Story, among others, and juxtaposition is used in the story The Lives of the Dead. It can be seen that literary methods have a basic however powerful effect in The important things They Brought.

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