The Ambiguity of the Term "Carry" and Its Multiple Meanings

Topics: Vietnam War, Army, Emotion Pages: 4 (1301 words) Published: November 15, 2013
Many successful authors use a particular writing style technique in which certain words are chosen to enhance and draw the reader into the story and play on their raw emotions. Some of these words are ambiguous in nature and have an “inexplicable or inexactness in meaning, and are capable of being understood in two or more possible senses or ways” (“Ambiguous”). Multiple meanings of the word, “carry,” are used to successfully accomplish this goal throughout chapter one by the author, Tim O’Brien, in his novel, The Things They Carried. The novel revolves around the Vietnam War. By introducing both the physical and emotional components of the word “carry,” O’Brien enables the themes of chaos and uncertainty in war, as well as imagination and memory to unfold through the use of storytelling. The Vietnam War was one that lacked purpose and encountered “widespread disillusionment” according to many historians (“History.com/topics/Vietnam-war-protests”). The lack of resolution, as well as the negative public opinion for this war, was used to fuel the author’s ability to discuss survivor guilt and post- traumatic stress disorder of the soldiers of this era. By using multiple levels of ambiguity with the term “carry,” Tim O’Brien successfully introduces subjects and themes in his novel, The Things They Carried. The main themes of this novel are imagination, memory and storytelling. The soldiers found themselves using a strong coping mechanism, called imagination to survive the daily horrors of life during the Vietnam War. Lieutenant Cross carries a photo of Martha, his imaginary love interest and uses it to escape realism, calm his fears and control his emotions, thus coping to survive. The theme of imagination is also introduced in chapter one of O’Brien’s book. Besides Martha’s photo, Lieutenant Cross carries the heavy routine gear that the Vietnam soldiers were issued. These items included a heavy rifle, ammunition, food rations, water,...
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