Memory, Imagination and Symbolism in The Important Things They Carried by Tim O’Brien When terrible things occur to individuals, the scary can not normally be taken into words and is instead illustrated into illustrations, satirical works or literary works. Among these said examples of scary which takes place in the history of mankind is war. War with all the physical, psychological, and mental inflictions that it gives its participants can only be portrayed as indescribable horror.
It highlights both the madness and the melancholy in the guy while in the procedure of truly making him a Male.
This procedure is illustrated in the well-known account of Tim O’Brien’s experience of the Vietnam War in The Things They Carried. There is one crucial argument in the analysis of the book which is the usage of the power of the mind in trying to mask the hurt, horror and heartache of the different experiences with the Vietnam War.
In trying to determine the memory (as O’Brien remembers his days the Vietnam War and composes the book), imagination (as Cross stimulates disillusions of Martha’s love for Cross) and symbolism (as Cross brings Martha’s love letters to deal with the despondence of the war) of the book, it can be understood that man is most weak in times of personal scaries however these trying times are also the sole possibility which can show how powerful he is by attempting to conquer such challenges.
This essay aims to prove that specific literary illustrations in the book are not just mere descriptions of man in war however really consist of symbolical underpinnings that show the success of Guy. In The Things They Carried, Tim O’Brien narrates the numerous experiences of the Alpha Company that includes the many scaries they experienced along with the lots of coping mechanisms that they employed in order to surpass those scaries.
The very first chapter of the book goes over the things that the soldiers carried which encompasses the more romantic illustrations such as the supposed love letters of Martha to the Company’s leader, Jimmy Cross– to the more required products like emergency treatment sets and ammunitions. However what makes these things so crucial to the soldiers is the sole factor that the products were needed and valuable in terms of survival.
Survival in the sense that they need to come out from the war alive through those things and survival in the sense that if they do come out from the war alive, they must still be sane enough to hold on to the things that life can use them post-war such as the recall of love and hope.
In O’Brien’s narration of the very first chapter of the book, it illustrates how various the soldiers are and yet how alike they remain in attempting to keep the essential things that can remind them of the life they had before the war: “Norman Bowker carried a diary. Rat Kiley carried comic books. Kiowa, a devout Baptist, brought a detailed New Testament that had been presented to him by his father …” (3 ).
The important things that the guys carry can likewise give a clue on their background and what kind of characters they have: if Jimmy Cross brings Martha’s letters it can suggest that he is a romantic or just plain disillusioned; Norman Bowker might be a writer who wants to chronicle everything for future reference or he might just want some kind of organization of the everyday disorderly events that he needs to go through; Rat Kiley may be that happy-go-lucky person who humors everyone with his comic mindset or he might just desire some type of escape by checking out the experiences of fantastical super heroes.
Due to the fact that O’Brien is the one narrating and the one re-creating the occasions which are currently done and previous, it shows that memory is one really essential tool in the production of The important things They Brought. Without the memory, there can be no re-counting of previous events and without the previous occasions, there can be no O’Brien’s book. Given that the author re-tells his experience (and the experiences of the Alpha Company) during the Vietnam War, then a story is developed in the process of the re-telling; and as what Toni Morrison composed in her essay, Memory, Creation and Composing, “Memory is the type of willed development” (213 ).
Morrison most likely composed “willed” since the one who is doing the recall is purposefully and is well-aware that there is an evocation of past experiences being given the leading edge of the mind, and is relived whether silently (in the person’s own mind) or honestly (through the communicating to other individuals by vocal narrative or composed recount). The stand that the individual is doing a “willed” remembering is very important because it would suggest that the remembering is valuable to the individual in the sense that the memory which has currently occurred and even forgotten is still enthusiastically (or frantically) kept in mind.
Morrison further composes that the most crucial thing which must be acknowledged is the scenario of why the memory was evoked and how it has happened (213 ). When it comes to O’Brien for instance, he wishes to inform the stories of the males of the Alpha Company as a type of conveying his thankfulness to them as well as trying to face the confusion and demons that continued to haunt him even after the war has long ended.
O’Brien hence utilizes his memory to create The important things They Carried for a function. Thus, if Morrison describes that it is important on why the memory ought to be willingly evoked, then it needs to imply a lot that the war which supposedly contains horrific occasions like gunfights and shootings would still be voluntarily remembered by one enduring soldier– and as what Morrison asserts, “Memory … no matter how little the piece kept in mind, needs my complete respect, my attention and my trust” (214 ).
But what Morrison and O’Brien also reveal is the problem relating to the development of a story out of memory– this problem is that, in a manner that memory is indeed some form of research study, however it does not necessarily translate that it is pure reality and truth. In O’Brien’s book, he tells that in stories specifically that of stories about war, there would be confusion over the reality and facts as it would be extremely challenging to identify “what happened to what seemed to take place” (71 ). Morrison likewise shares this predicament when she recounts an individual she once knew in her youth, a person by the name of Hannah Peace.
She later takes it back by writing, “I state knew however absolutely nothing could be less precise” (213 ). Hence, even if O’Brien magnificently recounts the experiences of the Alpha Company throughout the Vietnam War, there is a possibility that things did not take place as what they seemed or that such melancholic musings of the characters were not as significant in reality or even if such occurrences took place at all. For example, when Lavender passed away, was Jimmy Cross truly that tremendously impacted or was O’Brien’s eyes simply clouded as he too tried to conquer his sorrow over the death of his associate?
This is where the conversation of imagination occurs because for even if memory is research according to Morrison, memory can likewise be combined with creativity and is instead turned into a production of something totally or partially fictional. Patricia Hampl provides a different view on the role of memory. If Morrison reveres memory as something important since it holds, well, the individual’s memories, Hampl on her essay, Memory and Creativity, uses it to support her developed and pieced together fragmented lies which can be passed as real occasions that may have taken place to her:
On the day I composed this fragment I took place to take that memory, not some other, from the rack and paged through it. When I reread what I had composed simply after I completed it, I recognized that I had told a number of lies. (204) Hampl’s “lies” are not precisely lies; instead they are fragmented pieces of her past which she included some vibrant information to make it more appealing, dynamic and vibrant. Thus, Hampl’s reverence for memory takes another form as it might be regarded as a modified variation that has actually been brought forth by large irrepressible imagination.
Since an individual’s creativity is unlimited, boundless and endless then memory when partnered with a person’s creativity may be taken into terrific heights and can acquire higher power. This excellent power is seen in how the soldiers of Alpha Business use their imagination to surpass the turmoil of the Vietnam War. Because of the creativity of the soldiers, war does not seem that too bloody and dismaying as what the different things that the guys brought would show. The things they carried no matter how trivial (from comics to a can of maple syrup) or taboo (condoms) work as blanket of defense for the men.
This makes those things become not simply mere things for the males however a meaning of their desperate clinging to their past and a significance for a hope that they would ultimately come out from the war alive. Memory then as what the soldiers’ recollecting would prove, combined with creativity as what the soldiers’ “extra and modified” information would show are both powerful tools in attempting to save the injured (both in the literal and emotional sense) from the disastrous blows brought on by the scaries of the war.
In conclusion, the power of memory and creativity is depicted in how O’Brien narrated the various stories of the Alpha Business. Each story came from O’Brien’s memories and this gave life and voice to soldiers long dead. Because of the O’Brien’s memory, the dead soldiers were offered an opportunity to state their piece about their experiences throughout the Vietnam War. On the other hand, the numerous stories likewise show the terrific power of the imagination as the characters try to recall their pasts during dreamily pretend in their disillusions about those memories.
Although their memory is twisted and twisted, it ends up being a coping mechanism for them that becomes their conserving grace. In the end, Tim O’Brien’s The Things They Carried shows through the memory and imagination of the soldiers (as connected to the lots of things they brought) man is not weak because he runs from reality just because he has such trivial things he brings; instead, male is really strong because he acknowledges his weak point and keeps concrete things that would make him remember a truth not polluted by war but a reality flaming with hope.
Works Cited Hampl, Patricia. “Memory and Creativity”. The Anatomy of Memory: An Anthology. Ed. James McConkey. New York City: Oxford University Press, 1996. 201-11. Print. Morrison, Toni. “Memory, Development and Writing”. The Anatomy of Memory: An Anthology. Ed. James McConkey. New York City: Oxford University Press, 1996. 212-18. Print. O’Brien, Tim. The Things They Brought. New York City: Mariner Books, 2009. Print.
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