the things they carried - [Type the company name] 1...

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[Type the company name] Stoudamire 1 Shawnkeisha Stoudamire ENG 226-01: Hewitt 04/22/01 O’Brien’s Purpose and Balancing Act What happens to the many occurrences that people come across in their lifetime? Where do these occurrences reside? What are their purposes? Tim O’Brien answers these questions in his own unique way through the short story The Things They Carried . Having been a foot soldier in the Vietnam War, O’Brien came across a multitude of occurrences. Unlike most people, O’Brien did not allow those occurrences to live only in his memory. He did not leave them to reside in the past. Most individuals use the memory of their occurrences for the purpose of learning from them. O’Brien uses his past occurrences to write stories for the purpose of revealing things that he wants the reader to understand. In an article written by Maria S. Bonn entitled Can Stories Save Us? Tim O’Brien and the Efficacy of the Text , Bonn points out that O’Brien states what she considers a contradiction about his act of revealing and his possible act of teaching (3). Bonn mentions that O’Brien is conscious that he is the link between readers that have personal knowledge about the war and those that do not, but he denies a potential educational aspect in his linkage. Bonn also talks about a statement that O’Brien makes about believing that a story, whether fictional or non- fictional, has the power to surpass factuality or actuality. She takes these two statements to contradict one another because his personal encounter in the war and his belief in the power of stories give him the plausible ability to teach. Just because an individual has the credibility to teach does not mean that they should teach. Teaching is not meant for everyone. O’Brien felt that he could not advise or teach, but only tell his war stories. He knows himself better than anyone
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[Type the company name] Stoudamire 2 else. He knew his purpose was to only reveal what he has seen and lived through. Words are not only teaching tools. They are also history preserving tools. O’Brien uses his short stories to reveal a history that readers will never live through for themselves. He does his revealing of history with technique. According to author Marilyn Wesley in her article Truth and Fiction in Tim O’Brien’s ‘If I Die in a Combat Zone’ and ‘The Things They Carried,’ there are two key techniques of war fiction: “the structure of dramatic action and focal representation of the officer” (5). In simpler terms, these two methods can be understood as “plot” and “character development.” The technique that O’Brien used the most in this short piece was character development. Through O’Brien’s detailed writing, the reader witnesses the soldiers “humping” their belongings across Vietnam. “To carry something was to hump it…” (O’Brien, 638). “What they carried was partly
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This note was uploaded on 05/25/2011 for the course ENGLISH 212 taught by Professor Hewitt during the Spring '11 term at Grand Valley State University.

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the things they carried - [Type the company name] 1...

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