The Things They Caried

Topics: Vietnam War, Army, A Story Pages: 4 (1476 words) Published: September 8, 2013
"The things they carried"
In "the things they carried" Tim O'Brien defines a fine line between fiction and non-fiction in the form of story telling and the memories he has accumulated from his participation in the Vietnam war the way they "seemed" rather than "what happened" because that’s how you tell "a true war story" and that’s how the book effectively engages the reader throughout the whole book because nothing is ordinary, not even the way the book is put together, you just can’t anticipate anything and therefore leaves you glued on to the book wondering what he'll throw at you next. In order to put together such war stories Tim O'Brien uses many rhetorical devices to put the reader in the characters shoes such as flashbacks and great detail in imagery to drag you into the scene. He also uses symbolism in order to develop his characters and express their qualities of who they are, in addition to using anecdotes throughout the story and hyperbole in order to tell a "true war story".

When first picking up “the thing they carried” I noticed right off the bat O’Brien’s eye for detail in imagery. The first scene where Lieutenant Jimmy Cross carries Martha’s letters and every late afternoon he would read the letters “after a day’s march, he would dig his foxhole, wash his hands under a canteen, unwrap the letters, hold them with the tips of his fingers”. From this passage alone I can infer that Lieutenant Jimmy Cross has a deep affection for Martha since he makes it a routine in the midst of war to read her letters daily. On top of that having an extreme delicacy for the letters themselves in taking the time to wash his hands and hold them with the tips of his fingers to prevent any leftover smudge from making its way onto the letters. Furthermore in the scene O’Brien describes jimmy’s obsession with Martha “He would sometimes taste the envelope flaps, knowing her tongue had been there”. That passage cements my idea that Jimmy is indeed a weirdo in my...
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