Question 7

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Question 7

Post  CorinneBarnes on Wed May 04, 2011 5:42 pm

Although The Things They Carried is a work of fiction, the story does not have a distinct beginning, middle, and end. Rather than using the chronological arrangement found in most fiction, O'Brien describes the war and his experiences through a series of short stories. The chapters' subjects vary , from listing the physical and emotional burdens of each soldier to explaining how to tell a "true war story," and they are only connected by their relation to the Vietnam War. This organizational pattern makes the novel sound more realistic because it gives the readers the impression of seeing inside O'Brien's mind. If The Things They Carried followed the traditional format, the story would be less convincing, and therefore have a weaker impact on the audience.

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Response to Corinne

Post  connorbronson on Wed May 04, 2011 6:33 pm

I understand what your saying and I agree with most of it, but I do not agree with what you stated about how the chapters are only connected by their relation to the Vietnam War. I see a much deeper connection in the chapters; their connection almost a symbol in itself. For example O'Brien's story about killing someone in one chapter that later led to a chapter where he confessed that he was not the true killer but rather needed to say that he was in order to give the true effect of his emotion and what he felt. People perceive how someone would feel based on the situation, and having never been in his situation, most of his readers cannot feel what he felt. In order to show them, he first had to dramatically alter the scenario while still maintaining the truth about his emotions. The book's order by no means has a beginning, middle, or end, but it's organized more on a general idea of "heres the story as a story" and then "okay heres the actual story".

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Response to Corinne Question 7

Post  Carol Fontaine on Wed May 04, 2011 6:43 pm

At first, I agreed with corinnes stance on the book, as sometimes the connections seemed streached. But Connor makes a really great point in that their connection is a pattern itself. From that viewpoint, the book makes sense. Only by understanding the random jumps of point of view does the story actually have a flow to it. I don't agree with what Corinne said about the effectiveness of the book having a definite begining, middle, and end though. For me, parts of the book were very confusing because of the jumping around so I feel that a more traditional structure would have increased my comprehension of the story.

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Response to Corinne

Post  Jenna Strobel on Wed May 04, 2011 7:29 pm

I agree that The Things They Carried does not have a distinct beginning, middle, and end, but I feel the chapters are all connected in a different sense then just being about the Vietnam War. One tool O’Brien uses to establish this connection is through his use of foreshadowing. In the first chapter, he briefly discusses the deaths that occurred while at war. In the following chapters he discusses the deaths in great detail as well as how they affected the individuals and the group of soldiers as a whole. Foreshadowing allows O’Brien to connect each story and let the novel flow. Also, though it does not have a true beginning, middle, and end, I feel the story goes full circle. In the first chapter it discusses the soldier’s hardships and death, then in the last chapter O’Brien tells of his hardships and Linda’s death.

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Response to question #7

Post  briejones9 on Wed May 04, 2011 9:33 pm

Yes, they are a series of unique and individual chapters that take the reader into the war, but they are also stories within stories, framed inside the Vietnam War and interconnected through the unit in which they all carried the burden and responsibility for each other. I think it is interesting that O'Brien tries to keep it real and wants to write the story that will keep all of these people alive. He will fill his book with reality and share the stories that will live on like Linda lives on because he remembers her. But this brings the story full circle, and connects his daughter to his unit by writing the story to keep it alive. O'Brien is the story inside the story of his unit, inside the Vietnam War, and all living inside his life. He's inside looking out, outside looking in, and in the circle of the stories he wants to tell and keep alive.

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