April 1, 2010
The Things They Carried By: Tim O’Brien
There are many interesting quotes within the book The Things They Carried but there was one specific quote that I reacted strongly to. The quote says, “Courage was not always a matter of yes or no. Sometimes, it came in degrees, like the cold; sometimes you were very brave up to a point and then beyond that point you were not so brave. In certain situations you could do incredible things, you could advance toward enemy fire, but in other situations, which were not nearly so bad, you had trouble keeping your eyes open. Sometimes, like that night in the s*** field, the difference between courage and cowardice was something small and stupid” (O’Brien 147). This quote spoke to me in many ways. It showed me that the soldiers were not always brave and heroic. To me this made the soldiers seen like real men rather than just robots with guns. It made me realize that in a split second you bravery could vanish and you could be considered a coward. Also, from the last sentence I found that one small decision can be the difference between a brave hero and a cowardly man at war.
I had a “light bulb moment” within this week’s reading. The passage was one describing who Tim killed and how the boy looked. The passage is on page 124 and goes into great detail. I read this passage and knew why so many soldiers face PTSD after the wars. The passage really showed me what the soldiers face when they go into the war. Tim was distraught after he killed the boy bur his fellow soldiers talked about how great of a kill it was. I think that they were just as upset though because every other word that came out of their mouths was a form of profanity. I think that when people use excessive profanity they are trying to hide their true feelings.
A passage that stood out was one talking about a medal that Norman Bowker could have won for valor. The passage states, “Circling the lake, Norman Bowker remembered how his friend Kiowa had disappeared under the waste and water. ‘I didn’t flip out,’ he would’ve said. ‘I was cool. If things had gone right, if it hadn’t been for that smell, I could have won the Silver Star’” (O’Brien 150). This passage stood out to me because it sounded like Norman was more upset about losing the chance to get a medal than he was that he just lost a friend in the war. This showed me that the soldiers are dehumanized from themselves meaning that they hide the pain in their own minds. I have to admit that it shocked me that Norman was more upset about not getting a special medal than the loss of a friend. He watched a friend slip under a deep mud pit and all he could think of was the lack of medal he had. I think that he denied himself the feelings of true sorrow by covering with the sorrow of something as shallow as a medal of valor.