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The Things They Carried


The classic, ground-breaking meditation on war and the redemptive power of ...
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Why do you think that O'Brien included a story in which his own character imagines the life and personhood of the man he tells readers he killed?

Created: 03/04/20

Replies: 6

Posted Mar. 04, 2020 Go to Top | Go to bottom | link | alert
davinamw

Join Date: 10/15/10

Posts: 3058

Why do you think that O'Brien included a story in which his own character imagines the life and personhood of the man he tells readers he killed?

Why do you think that O'Brien included a story in which his own character imagines the life and personhood of the man he tells readers he killed?


Posted Mar. 11, 2020 Go to Top | Go to bottom | link | alert
rebeccar

Join Date: 03/13/12

Posts: 496

RE: Why do you think that O'Brien included a story in which his own character imagines the life and personhood of the man he tells readers he killed?

This imaginary story is important because some people do not stop to think that young soldiers and regular citizens of all ages on both sides often believe in clear cut good guys versus bad guys. Soldiers have to believe that they are defending their country from evil and not just fighting for natural resources (such as Vietnam's rubber or other countries' oil) in order to be willing to kill another human instantly. There is always a different country, a different religion, a different race that has been the "enemy," so it is important to remember that all countries can have a form of propaganda and a fear mongering to rally its people to accept what their own country is doing. If napalm was dropped over entire areas of the United States by a foreign country that preferred the politics of certain American regions, we might view war reports differently.


Posted Mar. 11, 2020 Go to Top | Go to bottom | link | alert
Kate B

Join Date: 03/11/20

Posts: 11

RE: Why do you think that O'Brien included a story in which his own character imagines the life and personhood of the man he tells readers he killed?

I think this was included to show that Tim wanted not to lose his humanity - though that made fighting the war even more damaging to his sense of self.


Posted Mar. 15, 2020 Go to Top | Go to bottom | link | alert
BuffaloGirl

Join Date: 01/13/18

Posts: 150

RE: Why do you think that O'Brien included a story in which his own character imagines the life and personhood of the man he tells readers he killed?

I felt that he did this to illustrate that the enemy were fellow humans, with the same hopes and desires that our soldiers had.


Posted Mar. 20, 2020 Go to Top | Go to bottom | link | alert
KelHydra

Join Date: 08/05/19

Posts: 17

RE: Why do you think that O'Brien included a story in which his own character imagines the life and personhood of the man he tells readers he killed?

This story was the most powerful to me - I got goosebumps reading it. I agree with others above. When a country goes to war, the enemy is painted with a broad brush as "the other", in opposition to "us" and what we are fighting for. To me, it seems like people would have to conceptualize the world in this way to even be able to rationalize going to war and potentially killing another human being. Of course, the world is not so black and white (thank goodness) and people are generally able to realize the inherent humanity of someone different from themselves.

This story humanizes "the other" and in the process of doing so allows O'Brien's character to almost grieve for the man he killed - he didn't kill an enemy, he killed another human being with potentials of his own. It was a very moving part of the story.


Posted Mar. 20, 2020 Go to Top | Go to bottom | link | alert
bobbie7

Join Date: 09/19/13

Posts: 61

RE: Why do you think that O'Brien included a story in which his own character imagines the life and personhood of the man he tells readers he killed?

To kill another human so against nature. In war, when killing is so prevalent it may almost become dreamlike or "not really happening". O'Brien gave the man he killed a persona, a whole life, maybe to talk himself into believing that this is not really happening, and that mankind can "live happily ever after"


Posted Mar. 22, 2020 Go to Top | Go to bottom | link | alert
joang

Join Date: 05/17/12

Posts: 86

RE: Why do you think that O'Brien included a story in which his own character imagines the life and personhood of the man he tells readers he killed?

I agree with the others...Tim O'Brien was trying to humanize the experience of killing another. While the others
lauded his accomplishment if you will Kiowa offered some understanding of what Tim was going through emotionally..."you want to trade places with him? Turn it all upside down-you want that?" "Tim, it's a war. The guy wasn't Heidi-he had a weapon, right?" Kill or be killed, one of the tenets of war. Dehumanize the enemy in order to survive, at least in the present. I do think that this really does take a big emotional toll in those who killed and survive the war. Definitely related to PTSD.


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