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The Things They Carried: The Lives of the Dead

Rhetorical strategies presentation

talya aj

on 14 December 2012

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Transcript of The Things They Carried: The Lives of the Dead

The Things They Carried Rhetorical Strategy #1 Imagery: "...an old man lay face-up near a pigpen at the center of the village. His right arm was gone. At his face there were already many flies and gnats." (pg. 214)
This quote paints a very clear picture of the scene the author was recalling in the aftermath of an airstrike. The reader can visualize exactly how the dead old man looked--the quote paints a rather vivid, creepy picture. Rhetorical Strategy #2 Oxymoron: An example of an oxymoron
can be found when Kiowa tells the author
that whether he refused to mock the dead
man out of fear or out of respect, it was the
"same difference." (pg. 215) All that mattered to Kiowa
was that the author ultimately refused to take
part in the other soldiers' disrespectful acts
towards the elderly dead man. The phrase
"same difference" is obviously contradictory,
but in reality it makes a lot of sense--Kiowa
was just commending the author, regardless of
his motives (fear or respect). Rhetorical Strategy #4 Anaphora: On pages 213, 223, and 232, the author
mentions that it is now 1990, he is now forty-three years old, and that he is now a writer. The repetition of these facts helps to ensure that the reader takes note of them. It emphasizes his point that he is now a totally different person than he was as a nine-year-old when he had to deal with the death of Linda. He is also saying that he has changed immeasurably since he was a young adult, dealing with death in Vietnam. Rhetorical Strategy #3 Euphemism: "Your girlfriend...she kicked
the bucket." (pg. 224) This quote uses the
euphemism "kicked the bucket" to mean
that Linda had died. It is shocking to the
reader because in a touchy situation (such
as telling someone that his girlfriend had
passed away) it seems odd and rather
heartless to use such a casual euphemism
to break this news to the author. However,
this goes along with the other characteristics
of Nick Veenhof--arrogant and mean and
insensitive. The Lives of the Dead Rhetorical Strategies Tied Together All of the strategies presented in this chapter (imagery, oxymoron, euphemism, and anaphora), serve to emphasize the emotional content of the authors message. The theme of coping with death even from an early age is very prevalent in this chapter, and the strategies work with each other to provide vivid descriptions and in-depth analyses of characters' behavior and feelings. Relation to the Book The examples of rhetorical strategies O'Brien uses in this chapter all clearly relate to one of the major themes of the novel--death. this chapter focuses on how the author dealt with death; how he made the dead continue living, whether it was through his hallucinations, thoughts, or dreams. Impact on Chapter The rhetorical strategies used in The Lives of the Dead have a great impact on the poignancy of the chapter. For example, the imagery of the dead old man makes the reader realize how sad and destructive war can be. The death of this man, along with many others described throughout the book, demonstrates how war causes myriad unnecessary casualties involving innocent civilians. Impact on Novel The whole purpose of this novel is to let the reader experience a first-hand account of war and all the messes and dramas it creates. Many parts of the novel are rather disturbing, but that is what intrigues the reader. For instance, the example of a euphemism in this chapter is symbolic of all the other euphemisms used in war. The soldiers learned to disconnect themselves from the death and devastation that occurs at war, and one way they did this was by basically having huge euphemisms for everything--It was how they avoided having to accept the truth about difficult topics, mainly death.
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