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The Things They Carried

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Shawn Miller

on 22 October 2012

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Transcript of The Things They Carried

The Things They Carried
by: Tim O'Brien Shawn Miller
Joe Norton Tim O'Brien
Born raised in Worthington, Minnesota
Graduated summa cum laude from Macalester College in May
drafted to Vietnam in the Quang Ngai Province
received the Purple Heart, Bronze Star, and CIB (Combat Infantyman's Badge
honorably discharged in 1970 as a sergeant.
worked as a reporter for The Washington Post
wrote several novels, including: If I Die in a Combat Zone (1973), The Things They Carried (1990), and Tomcat in Love (1998)
lives with his wife and children in Austin, Texas Works
If I Die in a Combat Zone (1973)
Box Me Up and Ship Me Home (1973)
Northern Lights (1975)
"Where Have You Gone, Charming Billy?" (1975)
Going After Cacciato (1978)
The Nuclear Age (1985)
The Things They Carried (1990)
In the Lake of the Woods (1994)
Tomcat in Love (1998)
July, July (2002) Writing Techniques
series of short stories put together
non-chronological order
use of flashbacks and previews
intratextual- stories allude to each other
change of perspective- from 1st to 3rd (In the Field)
metafiction-literary term describing fictional writing that self-consciously and systematically draws attention to its status as an artifact in posing questions about the relationship between fiction and reality, usually using irony and self-reflection. The Things They Carried Plot
A collection of short stories based around a platoon of American soldiers during the Vietnam War. These stories show the readers the inner workings of the unit and the psychological and physical effects that the war has had on them. It switches back and forth in time, going from Vietnam to years after it ends, such as scenes with Tim and his daughter Kathleen. The focus changes between characters for each story, giving a different view point to things that happen in previous stories, (Bowker and Tim's different views of Kiowa's death). Setting of: The Things They Carried
late 1960s and 1980s
Mainly in Vietnam
Also in U.S.A., Iowa, Massachusetts Themes ·
Physical and emotional burdens;
fear of shame as motivaton;
the subjection of truth to storytelling
coping with guilt
reliving the memories, PTS
Carrying the war on your shoulders
the stresses of war
belief of storytelling transcending the author and readers

What are some examples from the book the match these themes? Symbols
the items the carry on them- weapons, personal affects, food, etc...
emotional trauma they carried
Linda- past trauma, feeling of hopelessness an senseless nature of things
Checkerboard- hope, order in chaos
shitfield- the situation of Vietnam itself, loss of self
Curt Lemons's death- beauty of death, black humor
dope- means of escape from the pain and suffering
Kiowa's Death- The senseless tragedy of war; Kiowa’s entirely submerged body represents the transitory nature of life and the horrifying suddenness with which it can be snatched away;becomes another casualty in a war that strips men of their identity and turns them into statistics. Imagery
The Man I Killed: description of wounds (star shaped hole, jaw in his throat)
Lemon's Death- sunlight, darkness, beauty in death
Kiowa's Death- stuck in the mud, his shoulder was missing, face and chest lacerated from shrapnel, wading through the shit to find him
Shitfield- the horrid smell and the soupy texture Characters in The Things They Carried
Lt. Cross
Rat Kiley
Norman Bowker
Mary Anne Bell
Dave Jensen
Henry Dobbins
Bobby Jorgenson
Mark Fossie
Mitchell Sanders
Curt Lemon
Ted Lavender
Mr. Bowker Tim O'Brien:
Narrator and Protagonist of story. First experience with death was when he was 9; his first love, Linda, died from a brain tumor. Feels responsible for Kiowa's death because he turned on his flashlight to show him his picture of his ex-girlfriend which attracted mortar-fire thus killing Kiowa. Lt. Cross
Leader of the O'Brien's platoon. Represents effect of responsibility thrust on the unprepared. Carried 2 photos and a pebble from the girl he loved who didn't love him back. He feels responsible for Ted Lavender's death because when it happened he was daydreaming about Martha. Afterward, he burned her photos so that he could focus on the war. Feels responsible for Kiowa's death also because he picked the shitfield that they camped in that night because he had orders to do so despite his initial doubts about the spot. Rat Kiley
Medic in the platoon. He carries comic books in his first-aid kit,medical supplies, and M&Ms for "especially bad wounds". Eventually, he goes a little crazy from being around all the bodies, gore, and constant explosions. He starts thinking that giant, killer bugs are after him and he can't stop envisioning body parts. Most likely suffers from PTSD. Shoots himself in the foot in order to get discharged from service. Norman Bowker
Carried a diary. Feels guilty because he couldn't save Kiowa. He was over-pressured by his father who wanted him to receive lots of glorious medals. He sends Tim letters about Kiowa's death saying that it would make a good short story. When the war is over, he goes from job to job trying to find something suitable but fails. Ultimately unable to cope with his memories and failures, so he hangs himself in the YMCA locker room with a jump rope. Kiowa
An honest, trustworthy soldier with a distrust of the white man due to his Native American descent. Is shown as a devout Baptist. A practical soldier, carries his Bible, moccasins to move silently, and a tomahawk. Friends with O'Brien, helps him to rationalize killing the "Math Teacher". Dies in the shitfield by drowning in the sewage, showing the senseless tragedy of war. Mitchell Sanders
likeable soldier and loyal friend. Has a sense of irony/humor, shown when he picks lice off of his leg and sends them home to his draft board. Has a strong sense of loyalty, such as refusing to help O'Brien get back at Bobby and supporting Rat's decision to opt out. Also maintains a strong sense of justice, seen when he doesn't forgive Lt. Cross for Kiowa's death because he should have known better than to station them in the field. Applies pragmatism to his storytelling, believes that true war stories lack morals, are never simple, and should portray the experience of the soldiers. Carried condoms and the PRC-25 radio. Critic's Reviews of: The Things They Carried #1
John Greenya: "The Washington Times"
-this is the best work of fiction ever written about Vietnam. Some even think it is the best work of fiction ever written about war.

http://www.washingtontimes.com/news/2010/apr/2/book-review-the-things-they-carried/#ixzz29JJ5APQp Seymour Lawrence
"Only a handful of novels and short stories have managed to clarify, in any lasting way, the meaning of the war in Vietnam for America and for the soldiers who served there. With ''The Things They Carried,'' Tim O'Brien adds his second title to the short list of essential fiction about Vietnam. As he did in his novel ''Going After Cacciato'' (1978), which won a National Book Award, he captures the war's pulsating rhythms and nerve-racking dangers. But he goes much further. By moving beyond the horror of the fighting to examine with sensitivity and insight the nature of courage and fear, by questioning the role that imagination plays in helping to form our memories and our own versions of truth, he places ''The Things They Carried'' high up on the list of best fiction about any war."
-New York Times Josiah Bunting
"the tales were “rendered in an authorial tone, with an evocative, quiet precision not equaled in the imaginative literature of the American war in Vietnam.”"

-The Washington Post Alex Vernon, University of Iowa

"Tim O'Brien's The Things They Carried participates ina tradition of literary revision unique to 20th century war literature...a mechanism for questioning the possibility of spiritual gainthrough waging modern war." Stewart O'Nan- "Vietnam Reader"

-"A mysterious blending of the real and imaginary."
"Makes us feel the loss of friends and innocence, and the resulting confusion that gives war a deeply personal resonance." Climax Possibilities- limited due to episodic structure of novel
Tim kills the "math teacher"
Kiowa's Death
Tim & Azar try to spook Bobby
Mary Ann's transformation
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