Tim O'Brien Essay

Submitted By rileyrxp
Words: 2374
Pages: 10

English 10 Honors
January 17th, 2014
Research Paper

A person's life, the time that they live in, and there surroundings, all play major roles in what they will do, and the way in which they will do things. For an author, the events in their life, along with when, and what they were surrounded by can be key in the way they will right and in what they will write about. For Tim O'Brien, the Vietnam war will change his life entirely, and change the way his life will turn out. There is influence of the Vietnam War may be seen in every single one of O'Brien's works of literature, and being as involved as he was with the war, it gave him special insight into what war is really like which is very obvious from reading his writing. It has also given experiences in which to base his novels and short stories around, he is able to make his fictional works as horrifyingly real as possible, which adds to the intensity of his stories. All of this is especially obvious in his collection of short stories The Things They Carried, where the real life experiences of Tim O'Brien show through. The horrible things that occurred in Tim O'Brien's life, along with the good things, completely determined the subject in which he would write about, and his ability to write about it. In O'Brien's case it was the Vietnam War, this is the setting of The Things They Carried, and it is what allowed him to write with such detail. All of the death and atrocities of a war such as the one in Vietnam can change a person entirely, and this is what it did O'Brien, it gave his writing a certain sadness, a reality, a grittiness. Different time periods also have the ability to change a person's writing, the Vietnam era was a much different time from today, it was a much darker time. The people that you know throughout your life and the relationships you form will these people, good or bad, can be yet another factor in literature. The Vietnam had the power to not only change an incredible amount of people's lives, but to provide the author Tim O'Brien the different experiences needed to create an incredible collection of short stories about a very controversial war. The stories in The Things They Carried were highly influenced by O'Brien's experiences throughout the war, he talks about this an interview on PBS, “I was a soldier in Vietnam. But the stories in the book are, for the most part, invented. Yet, they're launched out of a world I once knew.”, this world he talks about is where much of his writing spawns from. Another experience used in one of his short stories is shown in one of his biographies, “With The Things They Carried, it was 'remembering all this crap I had on me and inside me, the physical and spiritual burdens.'”, what O'Brien is speaking of is how he not only listed off random things that the men that were around him during the war had on them he was also expressing the emotional burdens as well. In “The Things They Carried” in particular, he delved deep into the personal feelings of the characters, people that he had known from when he was at war. An example of him delving deeply into a character's emotional burden is after First Lieutenant Jimmy Cross had burned Martha's letters, this was because he blamed his mental absence while thinking about Martha for Ted Lavender's death. It makes his emotions toward Martha very confused, shown here, “He hated her. Yes, he did. He hated her. Love, too, but it was a hard, hating kind of love.” (O'Brien 23). His own feelings were also used to create these short stories, one time is in the story “On the Rainy River”, here he used his internal conflict of whether or not to go to war and turned it into complete fiction. He disagreed with the war, but he was afraid of the ridicule and accusations of cowardice from his family and others from his hometown, this conflict is shown here, “I gripped the edge of the boat and leaned forward and thought, Now. I did try. It just wasn't