Some Thoughts about The Things They Carried


Whenever genre is brought up it seems to be linked to one theme, or one complex idea. As previously mentioned this book, (The Things They Carried), the way that the critics say it, is largely shaped on identity. However, a majority seem to be largely overtaken by other subtle aspects that lead me to believe that there is something bigger then that. It can be seen, in my mind’s eye as the elements of war, this tragic aspect of life that even my own parents detest discussing. My dad was actually enlisted in the Polish army in the 1970’s. It takes me a great deal of time and effort for him to open up about his own war stories.
When I am quiet for long enough, he often tells about how Russian Communism caused him to realize two stories to every tale. He never wants to mention to me a lot about how he lived so close to the Berlin Wall, or about his dad who fought in World War II. After his mom died, he stopped talking about it all together. I think thinking about Poland only reminded him of the parents he does not have, and the pain in his eyes was noticeable, but I never had the ability to acknowledge it. Only once, when I was sick in bed this year, he mentioned his job in the army and how he fled communism in Europe. He said it with pain in his eyes, because saying goodbye to Berlin, meant saying goodbye to his entire family, all in Poland. This, as my dad might explain, is the other angle or big picture if you will. The subconscious care, but noticeable valor that this group of soldiers “carries” which according to multiple critics, O’Brien describes with “eloquence”. This idea is what the true genre is as well. O’Brien wants the utter truth to be told, but he wants to tell us of the things they carried, literally in the hearts and minds of the soldiers.
War stories and their double meanings need to be put out in the open. Obviously it reached 36 critics from around the country, and it has reached me. It is so vital for history told be told for otherwise- it is doomed to repeat itself, as a wise teacher once told me. This book can articulate to the reader about how although as Americans we lost, the bigger picture is much more vital the merely winning. When we lose sight of why we want to win, then we truly lose. Unfortunately, people sometimes do not realize that so winning becomes an obsession not an ambition, and even some of the most famous people in history did not take losing with dignity. The importance of this book is that it can cover more then loss as in losing the war. It is those little things that matter so much more in life, such as loss of a friend or loss of one’s self.
If a book is about war, but also attempts to show true feels of the courageous people fighting the battles, they the subject matter is simply astounding. It seems to cover pathos quite well, like snow blankets the earth. Randomly yet specifically as well the snow and subject are a perfect match. Some critics do however, disagree or just merely neglect to mention the “truth”. The seventh critic from the Los Angeles Times is different then most, for he fully puts his emotion into the critique. He says “it leaves third degree burns.” Others mention the book as gentle, merely gentle. Here is where the paradox lies- not in the war, but rather the untold stories. This book will convey any painful experiences to me, but I want to see past the ordinary into the extraordinary. I want to know the difference between killing for your country and killing because some man named General tells you to. Mostly though, I want to see, with open eyes, the untold stories of this misunderstood war. For while they are painful to the heart, they will be beneficial to the heart, mind, and soul sooner then I might expect.


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