Literary Essay Sample: The Things They Carried by Tim O'Brien

Published: 2019-09-30
Literary Essay Sample: The Things They Carried by Tim O'Brien
Type of paper:  Essay
Categories:  War American literature The Things They Carried
Pages: 6
Wordcount: 1417 words
12 min read

The Things They Carried written by Tim O'Brien is characterized by a great description of the events revolving around the characters of the story. There has been the extensive use of metaphors which can be used to give a clear picture of individuals who are holding hopes and beliefs that their situation is going to be better or even liberated to their former self. In the story, the author embarks on giving detailed descriptions of the things that the soldiers in the battalion of Lieutenant Cross. From the authors description, it is apparent that the soldiers were carrying with them different things. On their backs, they were carrying luggage, probably, food, weapons, and other materials. It is alleged that inside their hearts they carrying the feelings of guilt as well as poise. These soldiers, who had used various tactics in order to survive in the Vietnam War reveals that they were undergoing some challenges, difficulties, and hardships. However, it can be contended that despite the struggles the soldiers were experiencing, they harbored the hopes of being redeemed and lead a pleasant life, they had anticipated, initially.

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Different characters are embroiled in imaginations that are integral in depicting the element of redemption in them. For instance, Lieutenant Cross is battling with the love feelings he has towards Martha. Apparently, Cross is in doubts on whether Martha loves him or not, making him be depressed. The depression consumes him, making him be ineffective in leading the battalion since he is not giving them the attention they deserve. This points out the shortcomings of the Lieutenant as a leader, implying that he is unable to fulfill his duties and responsibilities fully. His love feelings towards Martha led him to obsession and fantasies since he was carrying her picture where he goes as well as imagining how Martha is also in love with him, just the way he is in love with her.

It is apparent that after the war, Cross had higher expectations regarding his love life. He expects to fulfill his sexual fantasies with Martha once the Vietnam War has ended. This implies that from his imaginations, he wants to atone for the lost time through the war by finally getting an opportunity to enjoy his love with his special woman; Martha. This is an aspect of redemption. However, these imaginations prove to be dubious and impossible since Martha is not in love with him. She does not love him back as he expects, making Cross be skeptical on the meaning of love. On reading the letters she had sent him, Cross contends that love is simply a figure of speech that does not imply its real meaning. It dawns on him that Martha never loved.

It follows that once these imaginations are not fulfilled, individuals become destructive, with detrimental results. For instance, Cross rejection from Martha leads to the death of the Lavender, which highlights the guilt-ridden nature of Lieutenant Cross. This indicates that Cross is deeply hurt and injured from his disillusionment and obsession with his love towards Martha. It can be claimed that the author wants to highlight that it is through repressive and painful experiences and memories that individuals can find the zeal of fighting and survive in harsh circumstances. However, it is imperative for Cross to have the total redemption from his guilt and misdeeds he has committed in the name of trying to win the Marthas love.

Another element of redemption is depicted in OBriens relationship with Linda. She is portrayed as the comfort as well as the compensation for the losses that OBrien has encountered. Through Linda, OBrien is able to get the true picture of what true love entails. She is able to inculcate into him that true love is innocent, just like it was the case with his upbringing in Midwestern. For instance, on their first date, they embark on watching the movie on war. This can be used to paint the picture about love and war. After her death, OBrien is motivated to go to war. He thinks that by going to war, he will be able to commemorate on the special love they shared with Linda.

The war also gives him an opportunity to write about the special experiences he shared with Linda. Even though Linda is physically dead, her legacy remains live in the memories, imaginations and dreams of OBrien. Perhaps this is the reason behind his writing as well as going to war. Apparently, Linda plays an integral role in comforting OBrien after painful losses. Her death has devastated him most making him live in anguish and bitter memories. However, Linda appears in the dreams (vision) of OBrien and asks him to cease from crying and lamenting over death. She encourages him by saying that death should mean nothing to him, implying that her spirit and sweet deeds to him should continue living on. This prompts OBrien to use wwriting in recounting the tales and memories of Linda.

The element of redemption is also depicted in the authors insistence on the lives of the dead. Apparently, Tim trying to save Timmys life with a story (Tim OBrien, 163). Under this context, the author is trying to insinuate that by bringing people back to life through a story, he might be redeeming or saving his own life. For instance, through the story, OBrien is able to bring back Linda, Curt lemon as well as Kiowa to the world of the living. It can be contended that by telling stories, an individual is able to identify and deal with his/her gruesome experiences in life.

Most of the soldiers in the war are engulfed in fear and guilt of the events surrounding the war. Some of them are finding it hard to come into to terms with deaths of their colleagues as well as their opponents deaths. For instance, Norman Bowker is overcome with the guilt pertaining the death of his colleague; Kiowa. Bowker is seeking inspiration from OBrien on how to deal with traumatic conditions of losing the loved ones. He finds solace in the stories recounted by OBrien which involves those people who had died in real life but brought back in the form of characters in the story. From this instance, it can be contended that writing can be viewed as therapy where those who are in the trauma of the past painful experiences can use it as a therapeutic intervention to their struggles.

As the plot of The Things They Carried on written by Tim OBrien draws to a conclusion, OBrien points out that he might be 43 years old, but he has opted to become a writer in order to deal with his past experiences. In his writing, he outlines how he intends to use his friends, who have since died, as the characters in his stories. While in his imagination, he alleges that he is seeing Kiowa, Linda, Ted Lavender as well as Curt Lemon going on with their lives. He even sees himself skating with Linda. All these aspects indicate that by trying to bring those who had died in his stories, OBrien is seeking redemption, even though these imaginations seem to be impossible and dubious in real life situations.

An aspect of mythmaking is also present in the plot of The Things They Carried on written by Tim OBrien. There are various tales within the plot of this story that seems to be fictional and unrealistic. These instances can be used to indicate that even if people are seeking redemptions, theirs is based on the ideologies that are perceived to be dubious and skeptical. For instance, it is apparent that fate of the Mary Anne Bell is unknown, which makes her tale to be considered as the myth. In the beginning, she is portrayed to be the sweet and innocent as she acts as the Mark Fossies girlfriend. However, she is easily drawn into the culture of the natives, making her join the Green Berets. The element of the Vietnamese soldier killed by OBrien but later on wakes up in the stories of his people can also be considered skeptical.

It is apparent that The Things They Carried on written by Tim OBrien is dominated by individuals who are struggling with guilt that is caused by past experiences that still haunt them. Despite the challenges they undergo, they are still hopefully that things will be better. They embark on using their imaginations as the component of helping themselves receive their redemptions.

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