The Important Things They Carried Essay
Jeff Jackson Instructor Barbara Manuel English 112 3 March 2013 Shell Shock: A Bloodless Battleground A storyteller of war, Tim O’Brien, author of The Things They Brought, keeps the reader mesmerized with PTSD stories of the Vietnam War. This novel represents a compound documentary composed on accounts of the Vietnam War. A number of the stories in this book include various examples of Trauma. There are visual representations of PTSD symptoms with recommendations to recurring nightmares, intrusive thoughts, hypersensitivity, avoidance habits, memories, and sensations.
These signs of tension disorder are evident in the author and his characters in almost all of his narratives. In the story “Mentioning Courage,” Norman Bowker has dreams and fantasizes about talking to his ex-girlfriend, who is now married to another man. As he drives around in his area in his daddy’s Chevy, he imagines speaking with Sally. “How’s being wed?” he may ask, and he ‘d nod at whatever she responded to with, and he would not say a word about how he ‘d practically won a Silver Star for valor” (134 ).
In this statement, Norman Bowker is having invasive thoughts about Sally Kramer. This is one of the lots of events that Bowker suffers during this chapter. He has several hallucinations about how things would have resembled if he had not suffered through the war. He frantically needs someone to speak to. Considering that Sally is wed, and his friend Max Arnold is gone since of a freak accident, the only person left is his father who pays little attention to him.
This comes out when he thinks to himself, “If Sally had not been married, or if his daddy were not such a baseball fan, it would have been a great time to talk” (134 ). This is evidence that Norman feels pushed away from all of the people he in his life. He attempts to justify and compensate the loss by questioning and answering himself. One particular instance is when he pretends to have a conversation with his dad about the war and state’s to himself “If you don’t want to say any longer-” (136) to which Norman Immediately responds to imself: “I do wish to” “All right then. Slow and sweet, take your time” (136 ). This is a good example of Norman’s inhibited social abilities. In several places in the chapter, he keeps recollecting thoughts about Kiowa, his friend during war. He blames himself for not having the ability to save his buddies life after a surge in a swamp field. He believes to himself, “There was a knee. There was an arm and a gold watch and part of a boot (142 ). Then a minute latter, “There were bubbles where Kiowa’s head ought to’ve been” (143 ).
Then towards the end of the chapter, Bowker thought of Kiowa once again and stated to himself, “He was folded in with the war; he was part of the waste” (147 ). At this moment the psychological suffering is getting to him. Bowker likewise shows hindered social skills when he stops for a bit to eat and instead of putting a fast-food order over the drive-through intercom, he beeps at the waitress to place his order. Then instead of leaving after he is done, he presses the intercom when again to inform the worker of the dining establishment that he has completed his food.
Following this occurrence, Tim Obrien starts the next chapter by saying, “‘Mentioning Guts’ was composed in 1975 at the recommendation of Norman Bowker, who 3 years later hanged himself in the locker room of the YMCA in his home town in Central Iowa” (149 ). All of the signs of PTSD finally pushed Bowker over the edge. According to the National Center for PTSD: “Why is suicide threat higher in trauma survivors? It may be since of the signs of PTSD or it might be due to either to other psychological illness.
Some studies connect suicide risks in those with PTSD to distressing injury memories, anger, and bad control of impulses. Further, suicide risk is greater for those with PTSD who have certain styles of dealing with tension, such as not revealing feelings.” (Suicide and PTSD) This offers great insight on Bowker’s suicide. He didn’t have great coping skills for all of the disasters he withstood during and after the war. The regret of Kiowa’s death, isolation from family and friends, and the overwhelming requirement to speak to someone, formed the best dish for suicide.
Tim O’Brien also displays the signs relating to a tension condition. It appears clearly to the reader following Bowker’s suicide. Tim makes the comment about Bowker’s letter, “Norman Bowker’s letter hit me difficult” (151 ). Then he goes on to state, “In common conversation I never ever spoke much about the war, definitely not in detail, and yet ever since my return I had been speaking about it continuously through my writing” (151 ). This shows that the author’s writing display screen’s PTSD. Tim O’Brien goes on to admit that he has inevitable scaries that visit him in his sleep. He states “This one wakes me up” (79 ).
Then he informs the reader about Kert Lemon stepping on a 105 round bobby-trap which blew him up into a tree. Dave Jenson and O’Brien are bought to climb up the tree and retrieve his body parts. Tim discusses his feelings about this when he says,” However what wakes me up twenty years later is Dave Jenson singing “Lemon Tree” as we threw down the parts” (79 ). Recurring nightmares like this is predominate trait’s connecting to PTSD for years after a war. According to the National Center for PTSD, “Those injury survivors who get PTSD are much more likely to suffer night mares.
Problems are among the 17 symptoms of PTSD” (Nightmares and PTSD). This enhances that Tim O’Brien’s headaches are the product of PTSD. The need to discuss nightmare to somebody is essential in handling the terrible impacts of war. The author reveals the requirement to discuss the horrific headaches when he states: “Typically in a true war story there is not even a point, otherwise the point doesn’t hit you up until twenty years later, in your sleep, and you awaken and shake your better half and start telling the story to her, other than when you get to completion you have actually forgotten the point again.
And then for a long time you lie there watching the story happen in your head” (78 ). Weather the stories have a point or not, the need to inform them to someone after they appear in a dream is a method of managing the stress condition. The dreams are not the only time that Tim O’Brien referrals back to the previous twenty years. He also does this in the chapter “Stockings” when he state’s “Even now, twenty years later, I can see him wrapping his girlfriend’s pantyhose around his neck before heading out on ambush” (110 ). Flashbacks are another symptom of PTSD.
According to Psych Central, “The majority of people with posttraumatic tension condition repeatedly re-live the trauma in the form of nightmares and disturbing recollections throughout the day. The nightmares or recollections may come and go, and a person may be devoid of them for weeks at a time, and then experience them daily for no specific reason.” (PTSD Information and Treatment) This evidence that supports the truth that Tim O’Brien was displaying the signs of PTSD in a great deal of his narratives with his repeating flashbacks and headaches.
The chapter of “How to Inform a Real War Story,” Rat Kiley expresses his invasive ideas after experiencing his best friend Kert Lemon’s death. Rat takes his anger out on a baby water buffalo by shooting it countless times. The author goes on to discuss the Kiley’s mental state by stating, “Rat Kiley was crying. He tried to say something, however then, nestled his riffle and went off by himself” (76 ). This shows Rat Kiley’s ambiance over his loss of his best friend. Not just did this horrific experience impact Rat, but the rest of the squad too.
O’Brien discusses, “We had actually experienced something essential, something brand- new and profound, a piece of the world so shocking there was not yet a name for it” (76 ). However, there is a name for it: PTSD. The loss of a buddy triggers severe stress disorders. Rat Kiley also suffers a great deal of grief after seeing Kert Lemon blown to pieces from a booby- trap. According to WebMD, sorrow is connected to PTSD in the statement that checks out “It’s frequently even worse when the loss is traumatic, abrupt, or unanticipated, due to the fact that there is little or no modification to get ready for it or say good-by. (Grief and PTSD) Kiley’s sorrow from the unexpected loss of his best friend, is an onset of the PTSD. In summary, Tim O’Brien might not sound to convincing about the credibility of his own memories and narrative; however, the PTSD sticks out boldly in his writing. There is an area in this book of narratives that protrudes to me. I waited for my conclusion because I like how the author mentions it. In my opinion, it sums up the PTSD in all of Tim O’Brien’s stories. Tim O’Brien states in the following passage, “I’m young and delighted. I’ll never ever die.
I’m skimming across the surface of my own history, moving fast, riding the melt beneath the blades, doing loops and spins, and when I take a leap into the dark and come down thirty years later on, I realize it is Tim trying to conserve Timmy’s life with a story” (233 ). I seemed like Tim is trying to tell the reader that the stories are his method of handling the PTSD. If not for memories playing out in our minds like narratives of our lives, then we would just be in total privacy. I can relate to this from years of dealing with a task with no social interaction for hours at a time.
I understood that ideas and memories, whether they are excellent or bad, are in some cases the only entertainment we have. Works Cited Tim O’Brien, The Important Things They Carried. New York City: Houghton Harcourt Publishing Business, 1990. Print. Cohen, Harold, Ph. D., “PTSD Details and Treatment.” Psych Central Web. 17 Feb. 2006. “Nightmares and PTSD.” National Center for PTSD Web. 20 Dec. 2011 “Suicide and PTSD.” National Center for PTSD Web. 23 April 2012 “Grief and PTSD– Summary.” WebMD Web. 21 Jan. 2009