Tim O'Brien's "The Things They Carried"

Killing someone at war must me a real tough. Tim O’Brien, the author and narrator of The Things They Carried, reveals his attitude of self-blame toward the man he kills in the chapter “The Man I Killed”. Throughout this chapter, Tim works through his grief and guilt. Figurative speech and point of view are two literary devices, and characterization and plot are two literary elements that reveal the narrator’s attitude of self-blame toward the young man he kills. Tim, in “The Man I Killed,” shows figurative language by describing what the Vietnamese soldier looked like after Tim killed him. Add quote here) Tim silently stares at the dead body, describing its dreadful state specifically, and envisions the life this young man might have had.

He imagines that the soldier was young and fearful. He thinks that he might have been a scholar who liked mathematics and hoped that the war would end before he ever had to fight. The narrator sees the soldier going off to Saigon University, immersing himself in his studies, falling in love with a girl, and then marrying her before joining the army and dying.

The narrator repeats these descriptions many times throughout this chapter, showing that e’ll never forget what he did to the Vietnamese soldier. There are similarities between the author and the narrator, showing points of views. The line between the two of them is blurred. The narrator is a thoughtful, guilt-ridden man. He knew that Vietnam War was unethical, but he fought anyway, because he couldn’t tell his family he wasn’t going. Twenty years later, he is still writing about this mistake, and all the horrible things he saw and did. He believes that stories help him work through these things; they give meaning to who he is now, by linking him to the past.

They also bring the dead back to life, allowing him to talk to people he loves even though they are gone. Tim demonstrates characterization by showing his emotions. Tim does not feel brave when he kills the young man. In fact, he never makes it clear whether he was the killer or not. He wants to avoid thinking of war as individual acts of bravery; rather, it is made up of general acts of brutality or cowardice. He seems to suggest that although his entire platoon killed that young man together, he will feel guilty for the rest of his life because he was part of it.

The plot also reveals the narrator’s attitude of self-blame toward the young man he kills. This analogy of plot is taken from previous chapters of “The Man I Killed. ” Tim was shot twice; the first time he was taken care of by a good medic, but the second time, the medic was inexperienced and Tim nearly died. Tim gets revenge, he pretends to be the enemy one night when the medic is on watch. He later hates himself for doing this, but he feels close to the man, because he watches him cower in fear, just as Tim did when he was shot and thought he was dying. Figurative speech and point of view are two literary devices, and haracterization and plot are two literary elements, that reveals the narrator’s attitude of self-blame toward the young man he kills.

Tim knows that stories can bring the dead back to life. Telling stories about people can make you feel like they’re there with you. The soldiers do this so that they don’t have to think about the fact that their friends are actually dead, or that they just killed a real person. Tim has been doing it since he was a child, when the first girl he ever loved died of a brain tumor. The stories change names, dates, and even events transform but the storyteller keeps the memories alive.


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