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Rhetorical Devices in The Things They Carried by Tim O'Brien

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Kali Sotolongo

on 8 April 2015

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Transcript of Rhetorical Devices in The Things They Carried by Tim O'Brien

The ABC's of
The Things They Carried
by Tim O'Brien

Kali Sotolongo
Period 5

"At night, sometimes, Lieutenant Cross wondered who had taken the picture,
because he
knew she had boyfriends,
because he
loved her so much, and
because he
could see the shadow of the picture taker spreading out against the brick wall," (12).
O'Brien uses the term, "humped," to mean "to carry something" (3).
Diction: Obscene
"Oh shit, the guy's dead," (13).
Extended Metaphor
"She was part of the land. She was wearing hot culottes, her pink sweater, and a necklace of human tongues. She was dangerous. She was ready for the kill."
"It lasted only a moment, but I had the feeling that a whole conversation was happening between us.
? She was saying, and I was saying, '
Sure, okay'
," (235).
This is anaphora because the words, "because he," are repeated multiple times at the beginning of each phrase (reason) given.
The use of colloquial, the identification of the diction used in a specific area or region, tells the reader that this is written in a different time period (Post-Vietnam War), because in the current time period, we do not use the word "humped" in the same context.
This illustrates obscene diction, as profanity is used.
This obscene diction is used to show that this was a war era, and this is how men in the war generally speak.
The original metaphor compares the woman to the land.
Then the comparison elongates into how

This is a flashback because he is recounting a memory.
War Drama
"I was the land itself... I was the beast on their lips- I was Nam- the horror, the war," (138).
The realism makes the reader understand the importance of the war, as well as making the genre clear because it illustrates the realness and significance of the war to the author.
"They spent six trillion dollars on firepower," (72).
This is hyperbole, an exaggeration, because yes, they spent a large sum of money on ammunition, but they did not
spend six
dollars on simple ammunition.
"It was an action shot- women's volleyball- and Martha was bent horizontal to the floor, reaching, the palms of her hands in sharp focus, the tongue taut, the expression frank and competitive," (12).
This is imagery because you can picture the description in your head from just reading the sentence.
"The four workmen had nearly completed their preparations for the evening fireworks... Some of the men began shooting up flares. Red and green and silver flares, all colors, and the rain came down in Technicolor," (147-148).
This is juxtaposition because it compares the colorful flares with the Technicolor of the rain side by side.
Loose Sentence
I'm skimming across the surface of my own history
moving fast
riding the melt beneath the blades, doing loops and spins
and when I take a high leap into the dark and come down thirty years later
I realize it is as Tim trying to save Timmy's life with a story
," (246).
The main clause is in
, while the following dependent clauses are in
, making it a loose sentence.
The narrator is speaking of what happened to Marry Anne Bell, and how the war took over her and "had the effect of a powerful drug". The narrator continues on to say, "it makes you become intimate with danger,' (109).
Metaphor is used to compare Marry Anne Bell's reaction to the war to the use of a powerful drug.
"Mellow, man. We got ourselves a nice mellow war today," (33).
This is an oxymoron because it is contradictory. There is no such thing as "mellow war".
Periodic Sentence
"Kiowa, who saw it happen, said it was like watching a rock fall, or a big sandbag or something- just boom, then down- not like the movies where the dead guy rolls around and does fancy spins and goes ass over teakettle- not like that, Kiowa said,
the poor bastard just flat-fuck fell
," (14).
This is a periodic sentence because the main clause, and idea, is not completed until the end of the sentence.
Rhetorical Question
"Why poetry? Why so sad? Why that grayness in her eyes?," (11).
This is a rhetorical question because the question that the narrator is asking is not meant to be answered; it is a personal question that he is asking himself.
They moved like mules
. By daylight they took sniper fire, at night they were mortared, but it was not battle, it was just the endless march, village to village, without purpose, nothing won or lost," (15).
This is simile because the narrator is comparing the way that the soldiers move to mules.
The overall tone of the book is
The author knows the subject well, and he is familiar with it.
The author can speak with a familiar tone because he experienced the war and he can speak from seeing it himself.
Visual Imagery
"... his other eye was a star-shaped hole, his eyebrows were thin and arched like a woman's, his nose undamaged," (46).
This is visual imagery because from reading this sentence, you can visualize what he looks like.
"But Ted Lavender, who was scared,
thirty-four rounds when he was shot and killed outside Than Khe, and he went down under an exceptional burden,
more than twenty pounds of ammunition
plus the flack jacket and helmet and rations and water and toilet paper and tranquilizers and all the rest
plus an unweighed fear
This is zeugma because the word "carried" is being applied to the sentence without being repeated, yet it is still grammatically correct. The word is applied
Works Cited
O'Brien, Tim.
The Things They Carried
. Boston: Houghton Mifflin, 1990. Print.
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