Books and Movies Reviews

The Things They Carried – Trauma

It has been estimated that over 2 million people died in the Vietnam War, and an additional 3.6 million were wounded.These staggering numbers give some example of the terrible bloodshed each individual soldier either witnessed or participated in on a daily basis.The Things They Carried, a captivating collection of Vietnam War stories written by Tim O'Brien, gives readers a closer, more personalized look at what happened in Vietnam through the eyes of the participants.O'Brien pays special attention to the psychological effects the war had on the men in his book, showing how the daily routine affected them with lasting imprints that often went beyond just bad memories.Through the daily physical, emotional, and psychological strain it imposed on its participants, the Vietnam War permanently altered some aspect of the character of each soldier in The Things They Carried, transforming some into a person niether they nor close ones could ever have imagined.
One of the least dramatic but most common effects the war had on the soldiers in O'Brien's book was desensitization.Throughout the different stories the reader sees how all of the violence caused the soldiers in Alpha Company to become numb to the "everyday" occurences of death.There are examples of this phenomenon in nearly every story, like when Dave Jensen sang "Lemon Tree" as he removed the parts of Curt Lemon's body from a tree, making light of the death (83).Nearly everone participates in similar actions, for instance, shaking the hand of the dead old man in "The Lives of the Dead."It is doubtful that any average person woluld do such a thing under normal circumstances.This numbness, adopted involuntarily as part of survival means during the war, probably had a lasting effect for many as Tim O'Brien relates to the reader that these images haunt him to this day, images that could possi


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