A great collection of stories connected with each other called “The Things They Carried” by Tim O’Brien was published in 1990. This collection deals with the horrors of the Vietnam War and the fates of many American soldiers. Many stories are author’s own experiences, however, the majority are a work of fiction.
The platoon of American soldiers headed by the lieutenant Jimmy Cross consisted of very young men, which were little prepared for the real war. They took pictures of their beloved girls, confusion, fear and sadness together with heavy and cold ammunition with them. These young soldiers often put on a poker face to hide their true emotions and feelings. They are afraid to show, who they are in their hearts in order not to reveal to others their weaknesses.
At war, soldiers change. They become cruel; justice and morality are lost.
Rat Kiley writes to the sister of his friend, who died. He describes how wonderful was her brother. However, she never replies to him. This makes him very angry as, in his opinion, war is war, heartless and ugly.
The author tells us one story about the soldier, who brought his very young woman to Vietnam and how she disappeared in the jungles. An interesting fact is that many soldiers understood it very well as they thought that there was some magic in the country. They believe in superstitions and undermine the effectiveness of truth. Vietnam makes people forget how to see the truth, and where to look for it.
O’Brien’s friend, Norman Bowker, returns from the war and does not know what to do. He cannot escape the terrible memories that haunt him all days long. In such a way, the author shows us all the horrors of the war as if warning us that we should not let it happen at any price.
The author was wounded twice. The second time he nearly died, as was treated by a very inexperienced doctor. This situation made him seek revenge on the doctor, which he regretted greatly afterwards. For me, this situation is outrageous. Revenge is a very mean and low way to treat people, even if they cause you troubles. I do not find it right that O’Brien even includes such a story into his book, as it can provoke inexperienced readers to think that any revenge, if regretted, can be forgiven, so it should not be avoided.
On the other hand, I find the author’s way of telling such deep things as the horrors of war, very effective and filled with ease. The reader learns about all negative sides of the war in such a way that he is not struck by its ugliness, therefore, the book can be read by people of the different age.
Still, if the author aimed at teaching the readers about his cruel experiences, he did not make it well, as the reader still feels the easiness and even certain lack of seriousness, at least I felt it.
The author believes that telling stories is vital in making memories always alive and remind people, what can happen if they are not cautious about their words and deeds. Moreover, telling stories about those, who were once with you can make you feel that they are with you again – you see their smiling faces in your imagination and you feel what they made you feel in past once again.
In my opinion, it is not a good way of thinking, as people should learn to forget and forgive. Time should cure wounds of the soul and body so we can continue living happily and not be pressed by the burden of the old sorrows and even happy memories.
Life is one and it is important to learn how to enjoy each moment of it and not to live in your past, as past can never bring us true happiness.