The Things They Carried Essay

1484 words - 6 pages

The Things They Carried EssayThe past would be unknown if it weren't for stories. Cave art, drawings in the ground, and fossils, all told stories that allowed us to figure out what the past was like. Eventually, humans evolved, creating legitimate languages allowing for a more mature form of story telling: writing. When a story is read or told, the characters in the story are brought to life in our head; and the speaker or reader delivers emotions. Some stories allow the reader to put together how the he or she ended up then and there. In The Things They Carried by Tim O'Brien, these aspects of story telling are brought to life in the author's attempt to show us what he went through during ...view middle of the document...

He stepped back and shot it through the right front knee… and rat took careful aim and shot off an ear… He shot it in the hindquarters and in the little hump in its back…it wasn't to kill; it was to hurt."(79). Rat Kiley is putting this innocent animal into a world of suffering, just as the land mine caused his friend to suffer, by taking his life. This is what eventually will happen to the innocent, helpless creature. When the reader hears this immoral story, about the innocent creature suffering, it allows him to get an idea of what Rat Kiley went through. The reader will feel nothing but mercy and sorrow for the poor creature, which is just how Rat Kiley felt for the death of his friend. "A thing may happen and be a total lie; another thing may not happen and be truer than the truth."(179). The difference between the happening truth, and story truth, lies in the emotional truth that comes out of each story.Along with telling the emotional truth, stories help to keep the dead alive. In The Things They Carried O'Brien shares stories of the deceased, in order to keep their legacy and spirit alive. A story about someone who is deceased can tell about the aspects of their personality. Throughout the novel O'Brien brings up the deceased in order to "preserve their lives." "We kept the dead alive with stories" (239). To the living, stories were a way to keep the memory of the dead alive, but to the dead, they were something as simple as remembering, that is what kept them alive: "That's what a story does. The bodies are animated. You make the dead talk" (232). Throughout the piece, O'Brien talks about his first date and dear friend Linda who passed away of cancer: "Stories can save us, I'm forty-three and a writer now, and even still, right here, I keep dreaming Linda alive...They're all dead. But in a story, which is a kind of dreaming, the dead sometimes smile and sit up and return to the world." (225). O'Brien remembers Linda, because of the stories he tells himself about her. He would even create his own dreams about her to keep her alive in a kind of self-hypnosis, "Lying in bed at night, I made up elaborate stories to bring Linda alive in my sleep. I invented my own dreams." (243). Although this was not a verbal story, it was a story that kept his nine year-old friend alive in his head. "In the dream we'd look at each other and not talk much, because we were shy, but then later I'd walk her home and we'd sit on her front steps and stare at the dark and just be together" (244). O'Brien applied Linda's personality to her character in his dream. Her shyness that he remembered as a boy was brought back to life in his dream, keeping her spirit alive. Through this, he brought her back to life; keeping the person she was alive in his...

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