Wednesday, October 21, 2015

Exploration 6: Jared Gandelot

The story that has impacted me the most is On the Rainy River, it was very personal and reviled who Tim O'Brien is as a person, his strengths and his weaknesses. When he got the draft notice he tries to think rationally about why he shouldn't have to go and how he doesn't support the war. He also felt pressured by society to go and fight. "It was a moral split. I couldn't make up my mind. I feared the war, yes, but I also feared exile. I was afraid of walking away from my own life, my friends and my family, my whole history, everything that mattered to me. I feared losing the respect of my parents. I feared the law..." (p.42) This sense of community is what eventually pushes O'Brian to go to Vietnam. In one sense O'Brian is courageous for fulfilling his societal obligation but in an other sense he is weak for down playing his own moral convictions. This irony of his man verses society conflict in interesting to me and is repayable to everyone in one sense or another.

The character that I relate with the most is Mitchell Sanders, I relate to him because of his personality and morals. His sense of irony, from the bag of lice he sent back to his draft board to the off the wall stories that he tells, is praise worthy. The stories he tells may not be a realistic as O'Brian's but they have just as much meaning. He is also loyal and has a strong sense of justice.

An example of a convention of narrative that I found interesting is O'Brian's use of nonlinear narrative. He doesn't start at the beginning he jumps around in time, from during the war to before it and then after it, from chapter to chapter. This is evident form the beginning when he transitions from during the war in The Things They Carried to after the war in Love. He also uses an other convention of narrative, the crot, where he momentarily jumps off of the time line the best example is in Spin. This way of writing can be confusing if not written properly, but that is not a problem for O'Brian. His use of nonlinear narrative and crots makes the story more interesting and more readable because it is almost like a puzzle that you are trying to solve.

One passage that stuck with me is in Spin where he jumps to the present and talks about why he is writing this book and how feels about it. "I'm forty-three years old, and a writer now, and the war has been over for a long while. Much of it is hard to remember. I sit at this typewriter and stare through my words and watch Kiowa sink into the deep muck of the shit field, or Curt Lemon hanging in pieces form a tree, and as I write about these things, the remembering is turned into a kind of rehappening...." This passage is meaningful to me because he reveals who he is as he is writing and how these stories are much more than just words on a page.


  1. I think it is admirable how he can now write about something that most soldiers try to forget. He uses his stories to honor and represent his fellow comrades. Writing this book had to be hard because it brought back bad memories and he had to relive many deaths that he saw back in war.

  2. It really is so hard for a person back in those draft days to really make that decision because in a sense, there really wasn't one to make it was kind of made up for you. Trying to think of how hard that must've been is crazy and thats why I also like that passage.

  3. My dad was a veteran, and the major difference I see with most veterans and the way O'Brien was about the book was that he embraced war while a lot of veterans respectively have a difficult time telling war stories, these are major atrocities and it is hard for them to continue to relive those stories.

  4. Your point about how he was courageous for entering the war but weak for playing down to his moral convictions was great. That was the decision people had to make if they were chosen in the draft. It was be a hero but deep inside feel defeat, or go somewhere safe and be a coward.


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