March 24, 2010
The Things They Carried By: Tim O’Brien
An interesting word choice was in the statement “D-cup guts, trainer-bra brains” (O’Brien 97). This quote was said by Eddie Diamond; he was explaining how the girl Mary Anne was brave yet very naive. She came to Vietnam for her boyfriend, but at first she did not see it as a place of war; she saw it as a vacation spot. She treated the hostile villages like tourist attractions. The soldiers thought that she would never learn the ways of war and that she would always be young and innocent. I think that the soldiers hoped she would stay innocent because she was the last bit of normalcy they could hold on to. The soldiers found that she was the one holding the camp together. They thought that by staying close to Mary Anne they could stay close to home and their own families.
The book The Things They Carried raises a lot of questions in my mind. I wonder if the stories with the book are true because Tim says that you can never really tell whether the stories are true. I wonder which ones are true and which ones are lies. I think the basis behind the mystery is the fact that not many people really know or understand what really happened in Vietnam, except for the people that were there and experience the war firsthand. I would like to find some true stories from Vietnam. I think the half true half-false stories are amusing but I think I would highly benefit from firsthand stories. I think it would be great to find true stories, but how would I ever know which ones are true and which ones are glorified lies? Tim also said that the stories that sounded crazy are more likely to be true than the stories filled with normalcy.
A passage that stood out to me was one after the death of Curt Lemon. “He stepped back and shot it through the right front knee. The animal did not make a sound. It went down hard, then got up again, and Rat took careful aim and shot off an ear. He shot it in the hindquarters and in the hump in its back. He shot it twice in the flanks. It wasn’t to kill; it was to hurt. He put the rifle muzzle up against the mouth and shot the mouth away. Nobody said much. The whole platoon stood there watching, feeling all kinds of things, but there wasn’t a great deal of pity for the baby water buffalo. Curt Lemon was dead. Rat Kiley had lost his best friend in the world”(O’Brien 78-79). This stood out to me because if they were in the states and someone did that to an animal they would be sent to the psychiatric ward, but in Vietnam it is seen as normal. This really shows me that the soldiers were completely detached from their lives before the war. This scene helped me to understand how some of the soldiers showed or did not show their emotions to others. The soldiers did not even express concern for Rat; they just stood there and watched in silence. The soldiers have learned to detach themselves from all emotion in order to survive the war.