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The Things They Carried - Book Review

Essay by   •  August 25, 2011  •  Book/Movie Report  •  511 Words (3 Pages)  •  1,729 Views

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For young people, the Vietnam War is a thing of the past and they can

only learn about it from second hand sources. In Tim O'brien's The Things

They Carried, it becomes very apparent that the Vietnam conflict has

proved to be one that many of the participants have not been able move

away from, while getting on with their lives. O²brien shows that the

conflict takes on a parasitic form that eats away on its victims for the

rest of their lives.

A parasite is defined as an organism that grows, feeds, and is sheltered

on or in a different organism while harming its host. The war in this case

takes the place of the organism, and the host becomes the soldiers. There

are several examples of the parasitic nature of war through out the book.

In one particular section, Tim O'Brien returns to Vietnam with his

daughter. Twenty years had gone by, but it seems as though all of his

thoughts are geared back to the time he had spent in the jungle so long

before. The two of them travel all over the country, but before their

departure, he returns to the field where he feels he lost everything. On

this list he includes his honor, his best friend, and all faith in himself.

For O'Brien, evidence of the parasite is not solely in his return Vietnam,

but rather a constant personal preoccupation that seems to flow through

the collection of stories. O'Brien shows how the memories of the war take

on a parasitic form, and uses himself as an example.

In the chapter ³Speaking of Courage², O'Brien introduces a character by

the name of Norman Bowker. In the story Norman finds him self home after

serving his time in Vietnam. Even though he is back in his home town,

things do not seem the same to him. The was seems to have put a new spin

on his life. Most of the story he spends driving in circles while thinking

about the war and his lack of place in his old society. The war becomes




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