The Things They Carried: Distinct Writing Strategies of the Tim O’Brien

The Things They Carried

Tim O’brien’s The important things They Carried is a really uniquely composed book. This book is consisted of many stories that, though are out of order, intertwine and capture the reader’s attention through completion of the book. This book, which is more a collection of short stories rather than one story that has a beginning and an end, uses a format that will keep the reader coming back for more. Normally, an unique includes 4 standard parts: a beginning, middle, climax, and the end. The start sets the tone for the book and introduces the reader to the characters and the setting.

Most of the book originates from middle where the plot happens. The plot is what typically captures the reader’s attention and enables the reader to become mentally involved. Next, is the climax of the story. This is the point in the book where whatever comes together and the reader’s attention is at the max. Finally, there is the end. In the end of a book, the reader is generally left asking no concerns, and pleased with the outcome of the previous events. Nevertheless, in the unique The Things They Brought the setup of the book is quite various. This book is composed in a genre of literature called “metafiction. “Metafiction” is a term offered to imaginary story in which the author makes the reader concern what is fiction and what is reality. This is really important in the setup of the Tim’s writing since it requires the reader to draw his/her own conclusion about the story. Nevertheless, this is not one story at all; rather, O’Brien writes the book as if each chapter were its own narrative. Although all the chapters have relation to one another, when reading the book, the reader is compelled to keep reading. It is practically as if the reader is listening to a “soldier storyteller” over a long period of time.

Another special element to this book is the constant change in point of view. This change in perspective highlights the disorder associated with war. At some points throughout the book, it is a very first individual perspective, and at other times it changes to an outside third individual perspective. In the first chapter of the book, “The important things They Brought,” O’Brien writes, “The things they brought were mostly identified by need (2 ).” This sentence is composed in third person objective point of view, as if the narrator is not even involved within the story.

Nevertheless, in the story “Ambush,” Time writes, “When she was nine, my daughter Kathleen asked if I had ever eliminated anybody (131 ),” and “On the Rainy River,” Tim writes “I was too good for this war (41 ).” Both of these chapters are composed in a very first person perspective. The change in the narrating point of view is essential because it permits stories to run together, and if the reader pays close adequate attention, she or he will read the very same story two times from various standpoints. This consistent modification in fact keeps the reader thinking who is going to do what next.

O’Brien likewise uses very distinct writing strategies as well. In the chapter “The Man I Killed” O’Brien composes, “His jaw was in his throat, his upper lip and teeth were gone, his one eye was shut, his other eye was a star shaped hole, his eyebrows were thin and arched like a female’s … (124 ).” A little farther into the chapter Tim writes, “The star-shaped hole was red and yellow. The yellow part seemed to be getting larger, expanding at the center of the star. The upper lip and gum and teeth were gone. The guy’s head was cocked at an incorrect angle, as if loose at the neck, and the neck was wet with blood (126 ). This writing technique is called recurring imagery. O’Brien utilizes repetitive imagery to make clear precisely what the storyteller is feeling. Even further into the story, the narrator states, “The one eye did a funny twinkling technique, red to yellow. His Head was wrenched sideways, as if loose at the neck … (129 ).” This method is also utilized in a few of the other stories too. The storyteller constantly duplicates himself regarding the method something occurred, and the vibrant smells, and the tiniest information of the surroundings in the existing setting.

In the story “In the Field,” O’Brien writes, “It was a dead-fish smell, partially, however something else, too, and then later in the night Mitchell Saunders had actually crawled through the rain and grabbed him by the arm and asked what he was doing establishing in a shit field (168 ).” Later on in this story Tim continues to reemphasize the terrible stink. The repeated nature of these stories sets a tone in which the reader can feel precisely what is taking place. Lastly, the most influential part of this novel is how Tim causes the readers to actually question what they read.

One chapter in the book, “How to Inform a Real War Story,” forces the reader to start paying thorough attention. In this chapter, Tim opens with a story of Rat Kiley and the letter he composed to Curt Lemon’s sibling after Lemon passed away. After that, O’Brien continues to inform the story of exactly how Curt passed away. O’Brien composes, “When he died it was nearly stunning, the way the sunlight happened him and raised him up and sucked him high into a tree filled with moss and vines and white blooms (70 ).” Throughout the chapter Tim duplicates the story while including and getting rid of information of what happened.

Also, in between each story Tim attempts to discuss the distinction in between a real story and a phony one. This part of the book is where “metaficion” participates. Tim forces the reader to decide which parts of the stories are true, and which parts are just fictions. Tim wants the reader to understand that in the majority of true war stories, the story is not totally true. Instead, incorrect details are included order to attempt and get the real point of the story throughout. This is likewise stressed in the chapter “Great Form.” Tim composes, “I want you to feel what I felt.

I desire you to know why story-truth is truer often than happening-truth (179 ).” In this chapter, O’Brien discusses to the reader why it is essential to have a difference in between “story-truth” and “happening-truth.” These chapters in the book have the greatest effect on the reader. Not just is the story told well, but the positioning of these chapters has a terrific result on the reader. The reader is now left questioning not only everything that will read in the remainder of the book, but likewise everything that has been read as much as that point.

Although this book doesn’t follow the guidelines of a common book, its structure genuinely contributes to its total effect. The Important Things They Brought is a work of art of modern war literature. Tim O’Brien had the ability to break the rules and still have a terrific effect on the reader. The continuous imagery, repetition, questionable aspects, and the unique narrative technique keep the reader absorbed in the words on the pages. Instead of reading a book with a consistent plot beginning to end, the reader can read and translate each narrative and grow with the characters. This is an unique that a reader will want to read over and over.

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