Books and Movies Reviews

The Soldier Within

Tim O’Brien’s The Things They Carried is not so much of a novel about the Vietnam War as it is a story about the soldiers and their experiences and emotions that are brought about from the war.O’Brien makes several statements about war through these dynamic characters.He shows the violent nature of soldiers under the pressures of war, he makes an effective antiwar statement, and he comments on the reversal of a social deviation into the norm.By skillfully employing the stylistic technique of specific, conscious detail selection and utilizing connotative diction, O’Brien thoroughly and convincingly makes each point.
The violent nature that the soldiers acquired during their tour in Vietnam is one of O’Brien’s predominant themes in his novel.By consciously selecting very descriptive details that reveal the drastic change in manner within the men, O’Brien creates within the reader an understanding of the effects of war on its participants.One of the soldiers, “Norman Bowler, otherwise a very gentle person, carried a Thumb.The thumb was dark brown, rubbery to touch.It had been cut from a VC corpse, a boy of fifteen or sixteen” (13).Bowler had been a very good-natured person in civilian life, yet war makes him into a very hard-mannered, emotionally devoid soldier, carrying about a severed finger as a trophy.The transformation shown through Bowler is an excellent indicator of the psychological and emotional change that most of the soldiers undergo. To bring an innocent young man from sensitive to apathetic, from caring to hateful, requires a great force; the war provides this force.However, frequently, the changes are more drastic.A soldier named “Ted Lavender adopted an orphaned puppy. Azar strapped it to a Claymore antipersonnel mine and squeezed the firing device” (39).Azar has become demented; to kill a puppy that someone else has adopted is horrible.However, the infliction of violence has become the norm of…

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