English and Literature
Submitted By geanean
Modes Of Analysis
Character Of Analysis Essay
In Tim O’Brien “The Things They Carried” The first story in the collection introduces the cast of characters that reappear throughout the book. The cast is made up of the soldiers of the Alpha Company, led by First Lieutenant Jimmy Cross. The platoon is deployed to fight in the Vietnam War. The narrator, O’Brien, is one of the soldiers, and he distinguishes one soldier from another in this first story by the items that they carry. Authors as far back as Homer described soldiers going into battle by naming the things that they carried: goatskins filled with water, spears, and locks of hair from their beloved ones. O’Brien updates this literary strategy. His characters carry the modern implements of war. But the feeling evoked is similar: static lists make the characters seem already dead, prematurely mourned. The lists are like wills.
The first story is told in third person, with some insight into the mind of Jimmy Cross. This movement between perspectives is called free indirect discourse, and serves to distance the reader from the soldiers. The reader sees them as if they were in a movie, moving slowly across an unfamiliar landscape, carrying their various burdens. The ancient movement of men going to war is juxtaposed with the rough, modern language of the soldiers themselves. They use slang, swear at each other, and try to diffuse the feeling of danger and helplessness by describing death as being “zapped” or “torn up.”
Often dramatic narratives are driven by conflict -- frequently two characters butting heads. A war narrative needs none of these traditional sources of pressure because the war itself provides the conflict. O’Brien describes the atmosphere as tense at all times. The men know they might die at any moment. When the inevitable happens and a soldier is killed,…...