He speaks of living with the shame of the story, whose events occurred during the summer of The war seems wrong to him, its causes and effects uncertain.
Bruce Franklin [Originally in The Progressive, December ] Besides the well-deserved guilt and shame and anguish evoked by the Vietnam War, Americans can also take rightful pride in two great national achievements.
Foremost is the antiwar movement of tens of millions of ordinary citizens, a movement in which Vietnam veterans and active-duty soldiers eventually played a decisive role.
The other major achievement is the literature produced by the war, a literature of which Vietnam veterans have become the formative creators. Tim O'Brien has been involved in both of these national achievements.
His contribution to the antiwar movement--writing antiwar editorials for his college newspaper and later ringing doorbells for Eugene McCarthy in had no great immediate effect, even on himself, for he then marched off to fight in the very war he considered "evil.
When the men in the White House and the Pentagon decided to send Americans to fight in Vietnam, they probably never gave a thought to the literature that veterans might write. But they certainly did anticipate the likelihood of antiwar protest, which is why they conspired to try at first to wage war covertly, later to conceal how the war was being conducted, and finally to expunge the memory of the entire affair or bury it under layers of false images.
Indeed, the key phrase in their covert plan for the war National Security Advisory Memorandum was "plausibility of denial. From his first book, the autobiographical If I Die in a Combat Zoneright on through his autobiographical cover story for the October 2nd New York Times Magazine, this denial--both personal and national--has been Tim O'Brien's main theme.
Recognizing that if he kills people in a war he knows to be immoral he will be jeopardizing his very "soul," he decides his only moral choice is to desert. But he discovers that he lacks the courage. He lets himself be sent off to Vietnam, he confesses, because "I was a coward. It is central to his novel Going After Cacciato, winner of the National Book Award and frequently hailed as the great American Vietnam War novel, a book all about soldiers trying to run away from the war, in body and in mind.
In the climax of the protagonist's fantasy, he announces to the world: I fear what might be thought of me by those I love. I fear the loss of my own reputation. I fear being thought of as a coward. I fear that even more than cowardice itself. I went to the war.
I went to Vietnam. In these webs, imagined acts of escape are often the desired alternative to the remembered acts of slaughter. One needs to know all this to understand the deepest meanings of O'Brien's latest novel, In the Lake of the Woods. The main action takes place in late September,near the mouth of the Rainy River, on the Minnesota edge of the Lake of the Woods, whose labyrinthine shoreline of 25, miles extends deep into the Canadian wilderness.
Vietnam veteran and would-be U. Senator John Wade has just suffered a humiliating defeat in the primary because it was revealed that he had taken part in the My Lai massacre and then altered his service record to conceal his participation. He and his wife Kathy, from whom he had also hidden his dreadful secret, have fled to a remote cabin, where they are futilely attempting to resurrect their relation and their lives, built, as they now both know, on layers of concealment, illusion, and lies.
On the seventh night, Kathy vanishes along with the only boat at the cabin. More than a month later, John borrows another small boat, ostensibly to search for her, heads into the remote recesses of the lake, and also disappears.
On one level, the book is a mystery story.
What happened to Kathy Wade? Did she wander off and die accidentally? Did she deliberately flee, either alone or with a lover?
Is she still lost in the wilderness? Did she and John conspire to disappear together and begin a new life? Or did John murder her? All of these are presented as possibilities, but the novel is not as indeterminate or unresolved as it may seem.
As in Going After Cacciato, some events did happen while others take place only in the imagination.
True, the purported writer of the book, who speaks to us in footnotes and authorial comments--and who hints that his own life has important resemblances to that of both John Wade and Tim O'Brien--ends by suggesting that we can choose to believe whichever scenario we wish.
However, all the possible scenarios, with one exception, are presented only in the eight chapters entitled "Hypothesis," where they are liberally sprinkled with "maybe" and "perhaps. Each involves some form of escape from the hideous event that did happen, outlined in the chapters "What He Remembered," "How the Night Passed," and "What He Did Next," titles indicating the actuality that can be recalled.The Things They Carried is an emotional memoir that really captivates the reader from the very first page.
The sequence of interrelated short stories allows the reader to view the Vietnam War from different angles and through different voices/5(12K). The Things They Carried = Here are my answers to book club questions provided by Lit Lovers who, in turn, state they got the questions from the publisher.
Thanks guys for . The Things They Carried Essay. Shame is a reoccuring theme throughout The Things They Carried.
Shame makes people do things they don’t want to do just so they can get rid of the fear of shame. The short story “On the Rainy River” is an integral chapter in the memoir The Things They Carried written by William Timothy O’Brien.
The short story is written through the perspective of O’Brien in present day and as a young man faced with a draft notice for the Vietnam War. The story portrays how, "the things they carried" were weightless in comparison to their feelings of love and loss, fear and shame, and the torturous memories of death.
"They all carried emotional baggage of men who might die. The Things They Carried. He felt shame. He hated himself He had loved Martha more than his men, andas a consequence Lavender was now dead, and this was something he wouldhave to carry like a stone in his stomach for the rest of the war.
They carried the soldier's greatest fear, which was the fearof blushing. Men killed, and died.