Virginia has been a university English instructor for over 20 years.
The following entry presents criticism on O'Brien's short-story collection The Things They Carried from through Published inThe Things They Carried is regarded as an exceptional fictional work based on the experiences of a dozen American soldiers dealing with the trauma and boredom of combat during the Vietnam War.
Reviewers commend O'Brien's innovative combination of fiction, memoir, and nonfiction in the short pieces that comprise the volume. In fact, the interweaving of fact and fiction in The Things They Carried has generated much commentary, particularly about the ambiguous nature of his narratives and the metafictional quality of his storytelling techniques.
Plot and Major Characters The Things They Carried is comprised of twenty-two interconnected short stories, many of which were published separately in periodicals. These short pieces utilize elements of disparate forms—fiction, Defining the occasional essay essay, fantasy, memoir, author's notations, and literary commentary—and focus on the Vietnam War experience and its traumatic aftermath.
Critics have praised it as a fitting and insightful introduction to the recurring characters in the book. Many of the pieces explore the process of storytelling and reflect on the confusion of the war experience: Several stories feature a character named Tim O'Brien who comments on the process of writing the stories—twenty years later.
The interplay between memory and imagination makes it difficult for the reader to distinguish the truthful elements of the story. The O'Brien narrator often recalls and elaborates on the scenes in various stories; in other stories, he is not identified as the narrator until after the narrative is complete.
Other stories are related by other narrators. By the end of the fantastic tale—as Mary Anne disappears into the jungle wearing a necklace of human tongues—Kiley is relating information from other sources and the story has become a legend.
In one section of the story, another soldier relates the story of a six-man patrol that is ordered into the mountains and undergoes a traumatic experience.
When the soldier tries to apply a moral and revises the story, the narrator recognizes the inherent truth of the first version. For him, a true story is one that isn't based on what actually happened, but the different ways in which the traumatic experience is rewritten and retold.
Critics note that traumatic experiences are endlessly filtered and recirculated in the stories. O'Brien then retells the story, over and over, with each version providing a new perspective on Kiley's own emotional trauma from earlier combat experiences and the murder of the buffalo. Eventually he reveals that it all was a fictional exercise meant to express trauma and its consequences without merely utilizing his own personal experiences.
Major Themes Critics assert that the central theme of The Things They Carried is the relationship of storytelling to truth. In this vein, they often discuss O'Brien's interest in transcending reality to represent the truths of his traumatic Vietnam War experience as a defining characteristic of the book.
Commentators note that for O'Brien, the question of authenticity and verisimilitude when relating war experiences is ambiguous; instead, a story's authenticity is often based on its effect on the reader. The role of memory is an important theme in the stories in the volume.
Another major thematic concern in The Things They Carried is cowardice: Commentators have analyzed the representations of masculinity and femininity in the book.
Exile and alienation also figure prominently in the stories, as returning American war veterans feel displaced from their old life and haunted by their wartime experiences. Critical Reception A resounding critical success, The Things They Carried is considered a valuable contribution to the canon of Vietnam War literature.
Commentators often discuss the genre of the book; it is often classified as a composite novel instead of a group of interconnected short stories. The tendency of the stories to reflect upon their own status, format, and function has prompted critics to refer to the volume as a work of metafiction.
Mental health professionals have praised O'Brien for his insightful depiction of combat trauma in his stories. Critics applaud his ability to memorialize his wartime experiences and view The Things They Carried as his most accomplished work of fiction.Previously, I was given the idea to define "culture" in my definition of the occasional essay, because I was using the term "cultural idea" a lot, and it was a good idea to clarify what a cultural idea really is.
Good Essays words ( pages) Essay on Three Types of Dieters - Beefy, big, blimp, butterball, and chunky all these names are what people are called in today's society, I believe this is what prompts people to go on a diet. One evening over dinner, I began to joke, as I often had before, about writing an essay called “Men Explain Things to Me.” Every writer has a stable of ideas that never make it to the racetrack, and I’d been trotting this pony out recreationally every once in a while.
My houseguest, the. Contemporary Metaphilosophy. What is philosophy? What is philosophy for? How should philosophy be done? These are metaphilosophical questions, metaphilosophy being the study of the nature of philosophy. Legitimacy and Orders of Knighthood This essay was first published in December Disclaimer.
I am not, have never been, and have no desire to be a member of any order of knighthood or chivalry or any nobiliary association, nor am I involved or associated with any.
A collection of scholarly works about individual liberty and free markets. A project of Liberty Fund, Inc. Facsimile PDF MB This is a facsimile or image-based PDF made from scans of the original book.
Kindle KB This is an E-book formatted for Amazon Kindle devices. EBook PDF KB This.