Wolfsdorf 1 Mikaela Wolfsdorf College Writing I Dr. Iler September 30, 2016 The Man He Brought Back to Life The Things They Carried by Tim O’Brien is a semi-autobiographical recount of the author's time serving in Vietnam told by a fictionalized version of himself. Through a collection of short stories, O’Brien blurs the line between fiction and nonfiction as he distinguishes the “story truth” from the “happening truth.” O’Brien creates stories that may be literally inaccurate or over-embellished, but the lies in the stories are necessary to convey a true portrayal of war. Storytelling is commonly used as a treatment method for those with PTSD, and the very act of writing The Things They Carried has helped O’Brien overcome these anxieties. In “The Man I Killed”, O’Brien fabricates the life story of the Vietnamese soldier up until the moment he dies. O’Brien creates this story so that the man will not be truly dead. O’Brien’s powerful use of imagery reaffirms his fearfulness of causing a man’s death, while his elaborate variability in sentence length enhances the effect of his mental collapse; the introduction of more feminine descriptions of the dead man and the stark lack of voice from O’Brien reinforces his mental removal from his actions, leaving him to believe that this man has not lost his vitality. The unconventional sentence length is first used to convey O’Brien’s slow, panicky reaction to his killing; the interweaving of feminine language strengthens O’Brien’s guilt. The title of the story “The Man I Killed” is the only context of O’Brien’s lengthy and intricately comprehensive illustration of the man’s body. O’Brien begins the story with a long-winded sentence giving an intense description of the Vietnamese soldier:
Wolfsdorf 2 His jaw was in his throat, his upper lip and teeth were gone, his one eye was shut, his
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