Analysis of “The Things They Carried”

Essay by EssaySwap ContributorHigh School, 12th grade February 2008

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In the passage from ?The Things They Carried?, the author uses precise and dramatic language to place the reader at the heart of the narrator?s taxing moral dilemma. This work of metafiction introduces the reader to the young Tim O?Brien, who having just received his draft notice for Vietnam, is very confused about whether he should do the right thing, and run away to Canada, or to do what he is expected by all of society to do, and go to Vietnam to fight a war he doesn?t believe in.

In this passage, the narrator has a transformation of consciousness. The author uses the setting to reinforce this transformation, shown by the scene taking place on the water, a representation of his unconscious psyche. The author/narrator uses charged words to describe the setting as ?sunny and cold?, and describes the wind as ?a stiff breeze?. The water, representing his unconscious, has a fast current that pushes the boat along in sharp, short motions.

These motions of the water and also his unconscious, reveal the feelings of hopelessness the narrator is experiencing, as the current tugs in conflicting directions, as his mind does the same.

In paragraphs four and five, the author uses rhetorical questions to directly involve the reader in the agonizing decision the narrator has to make before he can leave this river. The river is the symbol of the conflict in his mind, and his transformation of consciousness, in which he decides to do what society expects of him and go to Vietnam.

??there was a vastness to the world, an unpeopled rawness, just the trees and the sky and the water reaching out to nowhere?. ??the river choppy and silver-gray,? . The author/narrator uses setting to build the sense of harsh reality of...