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The Things They Carried
Transcript of The Things They Carried
Based on the novel by
Let us be honest.
War isn't for pansies.
He is the narrator and protagonist of the story.
Acting as our guide through his experience in Vietnam, he describes his story entering the war as a scared young man who wanted nothing more than to escape the war, run away and live in peace.
He joins the army anyway, motivated by his fear of what others may think of him, and his obligation towards his family and country.
Lt. Jimmy Cross
A skilled actor, Tom Hanks
has the ability to play even
the toughest roles. He has played
the part of a soldier in films
such asForrest Gump and
Saving Private Ryan as well
as the part of a
writer, albeit a historical
one, in films such as
The DaVinci Code and
Angels & Demons.
He is an immature, half-hearted soldier
He joined the Army because he needed the credits and his friends were doing it
Had no intention of taking responsibility and becoming a leader but was sent to 'Nam with other soldiers under his command.
Deluded by the thoughts of Martha, a girl he entertains the idea of loving, he escapes the world of war which proves to be costly for some men.
James Franco has been known
to play the man in love in
films such as Tristan & Isolde
and Eat Pray Love. Still, he has
shown his prowess in playing
serious roles in films such as Flyboys and 127 Hours.
He's likeable, devoted, and loyal
The most stable character out of the group, he has a strong sense of irony.
He exhibits a strong sense of justice when, after the character Kiowa's preventable death, Sanders doesn't waste sympathy on Cross as it was Cross' fault.
Later in the story, Sanders expresses his view that a good war story may often lack a moral but a story without explanation stands alone and speaks for itself.
Chris Evans has acted as a likeable
and devoted individual in films such as Captain America (in which he has also played the part of a soldier in theArmy) and The Avengers. He has exhibited the ability to play both the nice guy and a tough guy with a sense of justice in these films as well as the film The Loss of a Teardrop Diamond.
An honest, compassionate, and somewhat introspective individual
Extremely religious and Native American, he is the softest of all men.
Kiowa assuages his nerves by reading The Holy Testament, a copy he received from a family member.
His death by drowning in a sewage field symbolized war's senseless killing and its tragedy.
His death, like Lavender's, was preventable and caused by Cross' negligence which added to the grief.
Some of you may recognize him from the movie Maid in Manhattan where he played the honest, simple,and sweet son of Jennifer Lopez. Posey played the same type of person in the TV show Teen Wolf.
This character is the embodiment of the damage war can inflict on a person.
During the war he was quiet and kept to himself. Kiowa's death shook him hard.
Bowker has a prominent appearance later in the story where he writes letters to O'Brien, telling him what kind of a war story to write.
O'Brien sends him a copy of what he has written, over which Bowker rights him a letter telling him what to fix.
8 months after, Bowker hangs himself with a jump rope on a water pipe. No suicide note, nothing.
Actor Paul Bettany has been known for his funny roles but most prominently known for his serious roles. In films such as The DaVinci Code, where he plays a self-harming, vengeful monk by the name of Silas, he skillfully portrays the horrors tormented characters suffer through. He has done same, portraying serious characters effectively, in other films such as Legion, Priest, and A Beautiful Mind.
In the novel Ted Lavender is briefly shown as a young, scared soldier.
Always nervous, he often takes tranquilizers to keep himself calm.
He is the first to die, getting shot in the head.
His death occurred due to Cross' negligence: his daydreaming of Martha.
Josh Hutcherson has played numerous roles in his career. In the film The Hunger Games, Hutcherson accurately portrays the fear and surprise a soldier would feel when sent to fight and most probably die.
Mary Anne Bell
Mark Fossie, one of the soldiers at a base in the Song Tra Bong region of Vietnam, somehow manages to fly in Mary Anne Bell, his girlfriend, to Vietnam.
She arrives as wide-eyed, innocent, curious young woman.
After hearing stories and visiting a local village, she became entranced by the mysteries of the eerie jungle. One day, she disappeared.
The boys later found her with a group of what seemed like savages. She was completely changed, a dead look in her eyes, and sported a garland of tongues around her neck.
She symbolizes how war can corrupt the innocent and turn them into something hollow.
Although she is known for her "adorkable" roles in films such as (500) Days of Summer and the
TV Show, New Girl, Zooey Deschanel is a talented actress capable of playing new, challenging roles. Portraying the charming and innocent but then hollow and savage side of Mary Anne Bell will be a challenge for her, but an attainable goal.
Kathleen symbolizes the gap between the story teller and the listener or as a gap between the one who has suffered through the horrors of war and one who cannot relate nor understand.
She is O'Brien's ten-year old daughter who inspires him to deal with his guilt through telling stories about his experience in Veitnam.
Near the end of the novel, O'Brien takes her to Vietnam, to a muck field, to share the emotional significance of the place with her. She fails to understand the importance of it, commenting instead on the stench.
Child actor Abigail Breslin is famous for roles where she plays an adorable little girl that tugs on the audience's heart such as in films like No Reservations, Kit Kittredge: An American Girl, and Definitely, Maybe. She has still portrayed serious roles in films such as Little Miss Sunshine (that got her a Academy Award nomination) and My Sister's Keeper. Breslin will be the best choice to depict the relationship between O'Brien and his daughter.
Vietnam is about burdens.
'Nam means carrying a pack as heavy as yourself, stuffed with things that seem unnecessary but are needed because they keep you alive.
'Nam means carrying your children's
pictures in your pocket because it
gives you a sense of peace and protection
amidst the chaos and danger.
'Nam means carrying grief and guilt for
the rest of your life having watched your
friend's brain explode in your face when
he saved you from enemy fire.
War is not for the weak-hearted.
Men have come back scared out of their minds.
They've come back only to disappear: once
again under 'Nam's horrific grasp.
But, what about those men who weren't men
when they were thrown into war?
What if they were just innocent boys?
This is a story of those boys...
...of how they were forced to grow up too fast
...and of the things they carried.
It's the summer of 1968
Our protagonist Tim O'Brien
receives a draft notice in the
He flees to Canada to escape the draft.
Ultimately, he breaks down and agrees
to go to war motivated by the fear of
“They carried the soldier’s greatest fear, which was the fear of blushing. Men killed, and died, because they were embarrassed not to. It was what had brought them to the war in the first place, nothing positive, no dreams of glory or honor, just to avoid the blush of dishonor. They died so as not to die of embarrassment.”
Here, O’Brien argues that men don’t go to the war willingly, but go because refusing to go would make them a coward. He persists that his mentality is within them all. As the story progresses and some men kill others and some die, O’Brien learns that the greatest fear is not to kill or be killed but to be thought of as a coward.
With an air of confusion, shame, and innocence, he
meets the Alpha Company and its men, all of whom
maintain a facade of toughness and are in reality
innocent young men being forced to grow up or die.
When he meets the Alpha Comapny, he realizes all of the men are a little strange in their own way and have their own method of coping with their situation.
Take Lt. Jimmy Cross for example...
Another strange character is a Mr. Henry Dobbins.
“He sometimes slept with the stockings [of his girlfriend] up against his face, the way an infant sleeps with a flannel blanket, secure and peaceful. More than anything, though, the stockings were a talisman for him. They kept him safe. They gave access to a spiritual world, where things were soft and intimate, a place where he might someday take his girlfriend to live. Like many of us in Vietnam, Dobbins felt the pull of superstition, and he believed firmly in the protective power of the stockings.”
O'Brien explais that in a setting where all out chaos ensues almost every waking moment, the soldiers give way to superstition. Believing in something is their way to subside some of the aching feeling that their situation will never get better. As they have not had enough time to grow up and adjust to this new world, it is only right for their child-like beliefs and seemingly immature hopefulness to arise in peculiar objects for safety.
Throughout the novel, many characters die.
Lavender goes first. Kiowa is next. Other
minor characters follow suit.
These deaths impact O'Brien and the others
Through tones of grief, sarcasm, and shock the men try to play off these deaths as inevitable and inconsequential.
“They were actors. When someone died, it wasn’t quite dying, because in a curious way it seemed scripted, and because they had their lines mostly memorized, irony mixed with tragedy, and because they called it by other names, as if to encyst and destroy the reality of death itself. They kicked corpses. They cut off thumbs. They talked grunt lingo. They told stories about Ted Lavender’s supply of tranquilizers, how the poor guy didn’t feel a thing, how incredibly tranquil he was.”
Comparing the soldiers as actors is one way to come to terms with the normal feelings of guilt as comrades die. It wasn’t as if they anticipated each other dying, but by not taking the time to grieve and accept the early death, the soldiers can move on and finish out their duties, yet another way they are forced to grow up too fast.
“I’d come to this war a quiet, thoughtful sort of person, a college grad, Phi Beta Kappa and summa cum laude, all the credentials, but after seven months in the bush I realized that those high, civilized trappings had somehow been crushed under the weight of the simple daily realities. I’d turned mean inside.”
In his new situation, O’Brien’s status of summa cum laude are meaningless. The new reality is the complete opposite of what is used to be from striving academically for success. After realizing this and the simple yet brutal nature of the “bush,” O’Brien also comes to the conclusion, unwillingly, that he is capable of evil. After coming to terms with it, he knows the only way to accommodate with the hurt is to hurt back.
In the midst of all these deaths, O'Brien
experiences what it is like to actually kill someone.
Keeping watch on a lonely path in the middle of the
Vietnamese jungle, O'Brien recalls a grenade launching
from his outstretched hand and killing a young, Vietnamse soldier.
“He was a slim, dead, almost dainty young man of about twenty. He lay with one leg bent beneath him, his jaw in his throat, his face neither expressive nor inexpressive. One eye was shut. The other was a star-shaped hole”
O'Brien describes this an out-of-body experience as he describes it in third person and with short, curt observation. His candid manner in description masks the fact that this soldier just did the unthinkable. This scene of where the soldier was killed is brought up multiple times throughout the novel, meaning the act is still fresh in O’Brien’s mind, even if he did it years ago.
The death of the young, Vietnamese soldier symbolizes
the guilt some individuals feel over the act of war.
O'Brien's memory of what actually happened is foggy but he clearly remembrs the details of the mutilated corpse.
In his novel, O'Brien manages his guilt by giving the dead
soldier a happy ending, as if he had lived on, much like the way Briony gives her sister a happy ending in the novel
Although this a story about the men of
the Alpha Company, there are two
important women in the story.
Meet Mary Anne Bell, a cute girlfriend
turned psycho thanks to the Vietnamese
Bell's transformation adds to the already eerie, confused, and
frantic tone of the story. That echoes the silent eeriness of the Vietnamese Jungles that so intrigued Mary Anne Bell and
the confusion of the men after they see her new form.
Many years after the war, O'Brien starts writing of his
experience in Vietnam. His daughter, Kathleen, becomes his inspiration to assuage his guilt and mental turmoil by sharing the story of what happened in Vietnam.
“That’s what stories are for. Stories are or joining the past to the future. Stories are for those late hours in the night when you can't remember how you got from where you where to where you are. Stories are for eternity, when memory is erased, when there is nothing to remember except the story.”
As a form of healing, stories help O’Brien know that what he did was real. Whether true or not, they serve as confirmation that he did in fact serve with the Alpha Company. Although forgetting the horrible memories might seem like the best route, the worst feeling would be to know the he did something great and honorable in serving in the military, but forgetting what actually happened. Stories remind him that is wasn’t a dream.
After the war, O'Brien gets letters from his fellow Alpha Company teammates. He gets letters from Cross and most importantly, Bowker.
There is an intersting tale when it comes to Norman Bowker.
The thing is, he doesn't exist.
O'Brien made his story up.
Like Mitchell Sanders believes, though, a good war story
doesn't need to be based on complete truth.
“By telling stories, you objectify your own experience. You separate it from yourself. You pin down certain truths. You make up others. You start sometimes with an incident that truly happened, like the night in the shit field, and you carry it forward by inventing incidents that did not in fact occur but that nonetheless help to clarify and explain.”
For O’Brien, storytelling is a way he can come to terms with his traumatic experiences. He conveys this to Bowker after he sends a letter to O’Brien asking for a story because he needs a way to express his feelings of frustration. His attitude that the objective truth is not as important as the emotional truth and outcome of the story is vented several times within the story.
This debate between fact versus fiction is a noted theme in
the novel. Sometimes fiction needs to be in the storytelling so that the point gets across. But, the desired effect of it is the emotion the reader feels in the gut, not getting all the facts correct. These stories bring the soldiers back into the reality where their stories were real.
A special thanks to author
We would be nowhere
without your talent
and your book.
So, from the bottom
of our hearts, thank
you so much.
And, of course, thank you to
A film is only as good
as it's audience.
And so, O'Brien proceeds to where the bulk of the
story will be written: Vietnam. With it's eerily mysterious jungles, tiny villages, and disgusting
muck fields, it makes everyone (even the actors) jumpy, hesitant, and uncomfortable adding to their fear and anxiety.
You have been terrific.
This is rather unprofessional of us but here you go.
Have a smiley- :)
If you get mad, you can
lodge a complaint with our bosses.
He'll cut our salary. Though maybe
not when this film grosses billions and
makes it to the Oscars.
So, Thank You.
Oh and wins, of course.