Most people are not war veterans, and will never truly understand how soldiers felt when serving. But emotions are a common concept among people, and as people experience life they endure different emotions through different situations. When reading The Things They Carried by Tim O’Brien, you are shown through storytelling how the soldier felt when they were in Vietnam. Each story has different connections with different emotions to show how the soldier felt.
When the reader can make emotional connections to a story by understanding the feelings associated with fear, guilt, and loneliness, O’Brien then has broken his rule of how to write a true war story. As human beings, we attach ourselves to objects that make us feel safe when we are afraid. Items that remind us of safety and wellbeing become almost like a security blanket to protect us from the world.
In the story “The Things They Carried”, the soldiers do the same thing and “carried whatever presented itself, or whatever seemed appropriate as a means of killing or staying alive. (O’Brien 7), obviously the soldiers were in a vary harsh position where they were fighting in a war, but they also carried items that were not necessarily need to survive the war, but they carried for themselves mentally. “They carried peculiar little odds and ends. ” (O’Brien 9), each character carrying items sacred to them a point was shown of how attachments affect people in war.
“The Things They Carried” shows directly how O’Brien broke his rule of how to tell a true war story, because the story had a point of show how we attach ourselves to safety items in dangerous situations. Our actions wheather ruled by logic or emotions can cause us to become quilty. And when our emotions overrule our logic, we can agree to foolish things that we later can regret. The story “Friends” shows how that can happen. “Friends” is a story about Dave Jensen and Lee Strunk and how their friendship works. Overall it is an odd friendship that is really based on the need for them to have a friend in the war. Jensen and Strunk made a deal to end the other’s life if they got a life altering injury, now to say that you will kill your friend if they ever get seriously hurt is a really intense thing to say but they agree to it nevertheless.
And of course, since they made that deal, one of the got seriously injured. Strunk ends up getting his leg blown off his body, and Jensen is faced with the decision on if he should kill him or not. Strunk begs him not to kill him, and Jensen decides to break the pact and doesn’t kill him. But much to his relief, “Strunk died somewhere over Chu Lai,” (O’Brien 66), Strunk dying create a somewhat happy ending for Jensen since he didn’t have to break his promise to his friend, but he still felt guilty about breaking a promise he made to his friend.
O’Brien broke his rules in “Friends” by having the story be about war, having a partially happy ending, and having a point of showing how war creates relationships that affect people in ways they never thought would happen. When we are afraid of being alone, we create relationships we never thought we would create, the story “Enemies” is a perfect example of that. The story shows how a odd friendship between Dave Jensen and Lee Strunk came to be. The overall story sounds very skeptical as Jensen and Strunk “got into a fishfight.
It was about something stupid-a missing jackknife” (O’Brien 62) and then Jensen “borrowed a pistol, gripped it by the barrel, and used it like a hammer to break his own nose” (O’Brien 63). The story has a point of showing how Jensen’s emotion made him believe that he need to break his own nose because he obviously was struggling with the fact of being in war and was lonely. At the end of “Enemies”, Jensen asked Strunk if everything between them was alright, which then shows how Jensen was struggling with being engulfed in the war and need to escape the war somehow, and that somehow was forming a friendship with Strunk.
O’Brien uses his rule of how to tell a true war story to make the reader think. By engaging the reader, he is able to better tell the stories he wants to tell. He created his rules to have readers think and question the truth behind every story in The Things They Carried, and that’s how it should be with stories. You should never be able to just know the truth of the story, the best stories are the stories that engage the reader to think. When O’Brien breaks his rule, he is showing other authors how unique storytelling is and there are no set rules when crafting a story.