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The Things They Carried

Emily S and Emily B AP Language and Composition DUE 1/31/13
by

Emily Steck

on 31 January 2013

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Transcript of The Things They Carried

Sections:
-The Things They Carried
-Spin
-Ambush
-Style "The Things They Carried" "Spin" Overview:
-Opening Section of book, which it lends it's title to.
-Details the weapons and personal items which the men of the Alpha Company carried- with particular attention to Lieutenant Jimmy Cross and the photograph which he carried.
Message&Purpose:
-The items which the men carry with them represent the troubles that they have/ their priorities back home and creates a tension between what the men care for and what is actually at hand (carry both their personal items and items of war)
-Death of Ted Lavender and the apathetic nature of the rest of the men upon his death lends to the dehumanization of soldiers- if they let themselves stop to grieve they would go mad. "They carried all the emotional baggage of men
who might die. Grief, terror, love, longing- these
were intangibles, but the intangibles had their own mass and specific gravity, they had tangible weight."
-Page 21 - Describes much of the downtime that occurs during war and some of the sweeter moments of conflict Tone/Diction: Stoic and sweet- looks back on time at war with a sort of softness that you rarely see in the rest of the novel. Less dialogue and more narration in this portion- creates a distinctive attachment to the narrator which makes his stories feel all the more personal- appealing to the emotions of the readers. "Ambush" The Things They Carried Tone/Diction:Perceptive, Blunt, Scattered Organization of Thought- Use of brief thoughts and bits of dialogue from the company gives readers insight into the mind of a soldier which often furthers the nature of war. The scattered organization contributes to the unpredictable nature of war. O'Brien does not shy away from the less elegant words and phrases which members of the company say contributing to the authenticity of the piece. Rhetoric/Syntax: Anaphora of "The things they carried..." emphasizes the burden of the carrying itself by practically making the reader feel the weight of all that is carried. Use of short, simple sentences contributed to the blunt nature of the section and left no room for suave beautiful imagery. You are meant to feel the solid and cold nature of war. Message&Purpose: Gives readers the fragmented view of wartime that many soldiers who look back upon the time they spent at war feel. Section gives and insight into the overall boredom of war and illuminates that it was not all fighting but more so a lot of waiting around. Emphasizes the importance of story telling and memories through moments of self reflection from the narrator.
Rhetoric/Syntax: Metaphor of checkers as a uniform game in contrast with the chaos of war. O'Brien uses fragmented and often periodic sentences to cater to the narrators appeal to memory. Use of syntax played a crucial role here in the feel of this chapter and helped along the connection to the authors memories that you are meant to feel.
"Style" Elaborates on the story discussed in the previous chapter (The Man I Killed) from a different perspective. Message/Purpose: Explores the guilt that goes along with being a soldier and for the first time the narrator confronts the memory head on. The responsibility of a soldier and the manner in which they carry guilt is meant to be understood. "It was not a matter of live or die. There was no real peril. Almost certainly the young man would have passed by. And it will always be that way."- Page 133 Tone/Diction: Filled with guilt and regret. Written to evoke emotion from the reader so that they may feel the guilt and understand the burden which the narrator must carry because of a circumstance that war put him in. Written in first person (narrated by author) unlike "The Man I Killed" which illuminates the grief which the narrator feels. Rhetoric/Syntax: Simple sentences to bring to light harsh but simple truth of the situation. Reads as if in slow motion due to this sentence structure. A Vietnamese girl dances even though the majority of her village has been destroyed Message/Purpose: Shows readers the nature of soldiers to deny those who they know their presence is negatively effecting the humanity that would lead to the soldiers destroying themselves with guilt.
Azar mocks the girls dancing and fails to understand it because he cannot afford her that humanity. Tone/Diction: Fluid and bleak. The section flows in a somewhat poetic manner with the dancing of the young girl but the descriptions of destruction and smoke reinstate the gravity of what has happened to the village. Rhetoric/Syntax: Use of periodic sentence structure contributes the the suave (dance-like) nature of the chapter. Polysyndeton in reference to the dead draws the readers attention to the endless destruction and the loss which the dancing girl has just undergone. Roles of Sections in Text "The Things They Carried" appears first because it discusses the burdens which soldiers carry on a personal and war-time level. In a way the novel serves as an outlet for the burdens which the author carries as a result of war. This section also sets readers up for the following (Love) in it's discussion of Martha "Spin" follows "Love" because they both have to deal with the humanization of soldiers. Love tells the tale of Jimmy Cross's Martha in a manner that gains sympathy for Cross while "Spin" recounts memories of the sweeter times of war that make readers realize the boyish nature of the soldiers and their desire to entertain themselves in a war that is not as action filled as propaganda would have suggested. "On the Rainy River" serves to humanize O'Brien in gaining sympathy with the struggle he felt being drafted- adding to the boyish nature of the soldiers we look at in the chapter to come. Ambush follows "The Man I Killed" because they both elaborate on the same story. The first of the two however does not deal directly with the narrators crime where as the second takes on a first person point of view and lets us in on the guilt in a more candid manner. "Style" follows to show the pain of the other side of the war in contrast to O'Brien and the manner in which other soldiers dealt with guilt (dehumanization) "Style" is followed by "Speaking of Courage" to show two different types of courage. There are those who dance in destruction and there are those who let their friends drown in muck to avoid their own destruction. This contrast presents a moral question in regard to the moral grounding of the soldiers. Roles of Sections in Larger Purpose "The Things They Carried": Introduces readers to the characters which they go on journey's with throughout the rest of the novel in a very intimate way. Opens readers up to the idea that soldiers carry a much bigger piece of grief from war than we can understand. "Spin": Reminds readers that the propaganda of war is not always true. Opens our eyes to the sweeter moments of war to humanize the whole event. By letting the human nature of it all seep in O'Brien makes the point that the men behind the machines are far from machine like themselves. "Ambush": Gives readers an insight into the guilt one feels for killing. In doing so we are once again reminded of the burden of the soldier and for the first time are given insight into the mental ramifications of war after the fact. "Style": Brings into play the humanity of the civilians and the nature of the soldier to dismiss this humanity for fear of not being capable of coping with the destruction they cause. Role of Sections in Unit "The Things They Carried" relates best to George Orwell's "Shooting an Elephant" in which he discusses why he had to kill an animal for fear of the natives he rules over thinking him a fool. "Men killed, and died, because they were embarrassed not to" (O'Brien 21). O'Brien addresses the same issue in this section in his discussion of the burden which soldiers carry, being that they must kill or be killed to live up to the standards which their country has set for them. "Spin" relates best to Chris Hedges argument in "The Destruction of Culture" in regard to propaganda and glorification of war. O'Brein admits that war was just a waiting game for large portions of time- much different than the image which our governments present to us in order to evoke patriotism "Ambush" correlates with Orwell's "Shooting an Elephant" in it's discussion of the guilt which one feels in reflecting back upon the horrors of waring times. "Style" relates back to the dehumanization of the enemy that Hedges discusses in his, "The Destruction of Culture". By questioning and mocking the girl who dances the soldiers avoid having to deal with her humanity and the consequences of their actions towards her. Role of Sections in Unit "The Things They Carried" section of the novel illuminates the human burden of war which hints that O'Brien himself believes war to be inevitable but not necessary due to the burden which he still carries throughout the novel because of the war he fought in. "Ambush" nods to the inevitability of war rather than the necessity through the guilt that the author feels for the death which he caused. It would seem that O'Brien is very much ashamed of this death and is still haunted by it, a fate he would not push upon any other, thus making the event unnecessary. "Spin" brings to the forefront the truth that war is not always filled with destruction and neglect. In humanizing both the subjects and in turn the enemies (who likely lead a life quite similar to their counterparts) O'Brien clearly desires for war to be avoided to protect the sweet moments which these men should experience at home rather than in lice ridden camps. "Style" humanizes the enemy and the pointless loses which civilians suffer due to war. If such an event was necessary O'Brien would not include events that depict such careless destruction to readers. "The pieces were on the board, the enemy was visible, you could watch the tactics unfolding into larger strategies. There was a winner and a loser. There were rules." -Page 32 "...and infant and an old woman and a woman whose age was hard to tell."-Page 135 "He was realistic about it. There was a new hardness in his stomach. He loved her but he hated her."-Page 24 (TTTC) "'It doesn't matter,' he finally said. "I love her."-Page 29 (Love) "Not bloody stories necessarily. Happy stories, too, and even a few piece stories."-Page 35 (Spin) "The emotions went from outrage to terror to bewilderment to guilt to sorrow and then back again to outrage. I felt a sickness inside of me. Real disease."-Page 46 (OtRR) "The he said..."-Page 127 (TMIK) "I remember..."-Page 133 (Ambush) "Most of the hamlet had burned down, including her house, which was now smoke, and the girl dances with her eyes half closed, her feet bare."-Page 135 (Style) "He wished he could've explained some of this. How he had been braver than he ever thought possible, but not so brave that he wanted to be. The distinction was important."-Page 153 (SoC) "I wondered if any of the others grasped that I had done it solely to avoid looking a fool."-Orwell, "Shooting and Elephant" "A soldier who is able to see the humanity of the enemy makes a troubled and ineffective killer."-Hedges,"The Destruction of Culture" "You could see the agony of it jolt his whole body and knock the last remnant of strength from his legs."-Orwell, "Shooting and Elephant" "use of a nation's cultural resources to back up war effort is essential"-Hedges,"The Destruction of Culture"
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