Things They Carried Rhetorical Analysis

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Pages: 4

For humans, fear ultimately motivates more in the process of a decision than any other factor does. Set in the backdrop of the Vietnam War of the 1960’s, Tim O’Brien’s The Things They Carried examines the implications of a war whereupon men would have to decide their true motives for fighting. For the character Tim O’Brien, a young American fresh out of his studies and set for Harvard graduate school, fear proves the decisive factor in his decision to accept the consequences of a draft notice for the Vietnam war. O’Brien masterfully supports this argument through extended metaphor, anaphora, and juxtaposition. O’Brien’s use of extended metaphor allows the ambiance of the section to truly resonate an argument within the reader. O’Brien faces an ethical dilemma when he receives the draft notice and escapes his responsibilities by fleeing to a lodge near the Canadian border. Unsure of his final …show more content…
As he considers his options, O’Brien finally decides that “I would not do what I should do...I would not be brave.” In the face of his own chance to define his life rather than following the orders that were given to him, O’Brien realizes that there is simply too much at stake for him. The persistent repetition of “I would not” demonstrates all of the morally correct reasons for evasion to Canada, yet O’Brien decides otherwise. In doing so, O’Brien hammers home the point that no matter how virtuous one option is, ultimately fear will outweigh virtue. As such, when faced with his impulse choice, O’Brien states that “I saw a seven-year-old boy in a white cowboy hat…I saw a twelve-year old Little League shortstop pivoting to turn a double play.” Serving primarily as an emotional booster for his argument through incorporation of nostalgic memories, O’Brien’s use of anaphora emphasizes what “I (O’Brien) saw,” and subsequently, what he