The Things They Carried Essay

Why does O’Brien use the theme of rejection to convey his experience in war? In the book, The Things They Carried, Tim O’Brien writes about his experience in the Vietnam War. He uses many themes to show how the war has changed the soldiers and how the citizens perceive the war. Throughout the book, he uses the theme of rejection to show the disconnection between the soldiers at war and the citizens at home.

O’Brien defines the relationship among the soldiers from the beginning of war to the end. He shows the struggle and hardship of returning to everyday life and the acceptance of society. Rejection is a reoccurring theme that O’Brien uses, it helps the reader understand what went on in the war and the way societies’ views the war. The disconnection between the soldiers at war and the citizens at home is the most important example of rejection that O’Brien uses to further explain his experience in war.

O’Brien begins to talk about a true war story and how it makes the stomach believe. He says that Curt Lemon stepped on a booby-trap while playing with Rat Kiley and instantly died. Curt Lemon was dead. Rat Kiley had lost his best friend in the world. Later in the week he would write a long personal letter to the guy’s sister, who would not write back, but for now it was a question of pain. (79) This quote is a great example of how citizens at home do not understand and respond well to the soldiers at war.

Rat Kiley had put a lot of thought into the letter he sent to Curt Lemon’s sister explaining what had happened and how great Curt Lemon was. Curt Lemon’s sister not writing back shows the disconnect between her and the soldiers and how she does not support the war. O’Brien also uses the relationship among the soldiers from the beginning of war to the end to explain the theme of rejection throughout the book. One important example of this is when Tim O’Brien got shot in the butt and the medic took so long to get to him, he almost died of shock.

He was no longer able to fight in war and worked in the battalion supply section. A few months later, his group he used to go into war with came in for stand-down. After hearing their stories, O’Brien realizes he is more like a civilian now. O’Brien begins talking to Mitchell Sanders about Bobby Jorgenson, the medic who almost killed him. Sanders shrugged. “People change. Situations change. I hate to say this, man, but you’re out of touch. Jorgenson – he’s with us now. ” “And I’m not? ” Sanders looked at me for a moment. “No,” he said. “I guess you’re not. ” (197)

This quote explains how being in war as a soldier creates a different relationship with the other soldiers than it does when you are not fighting in war or are a citizen. The last example of the theme of rejection and disconnection in The Things They Carried is the hardship of returning to everyday life. When Norman Bowker came home from the war he did not have anything to come home to and nothing to look forward to. He decided to take his father’s truck around a lake nearby their house and he stopped at the local A&W. He honked and a carhop came up to his car. He began to order. Mama Burger,” he said. “Maybe some fries, too. ” The girl sighed, leaned down, and shook her head. Her eyes were as fluffy and airy-light as cotton candy. “You blind? ” she said. She put out her hand and tapped an intercom attached to a steel post. “Punch the button and place your order. All I do is carry the dumb trays. ” … The intercom squeaked and said, “Order. ” “Mama Burger and fries,” Norman Bowker said. “Affirmative, copy clear. No rootie-tootie? ” “Rootie-tootie? ” “You know, man – root beer. ” … (151) This quote shows the disconnect between society and the soldiers at war.

Once Norman Bowker came home, he was out of touch with society and it was hard for him to return to everyday life. He had been gone for so long that everything he came back to had changed. Throughout the book, The Things They Carried, O’Brien uses the theme of rejection to convey his experiences in war and explain societies’ view on war. He uses examples such as the disconnect between the soldiers at war and the citizens at home, the relationship among the soldiers from the beginning of war to the end, and the hardship of returning to everyday life.

As we have discovered, being in the Vietnam war was not easy for any of the soldiers and most of the time they had many burdens and worries. Society was very disconnected with the war and many did not support it. The soldiers relationships changed greatly when the men were wounded or killed, and they had to adjust quickly to their constantly changing lifestyle. Once they came back home, it was very hard for them to get back into their normal routines and everyday life they once were accustomed to.

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