Tuesday, October 20, 2015

Exploration 6: Reading response to The Things They Carried- Natalee Christman

   The story that has meant the most to me so far is the Sweetheart of the Song Tra Bong. The reason why I enjoyed this story the best is because the story captured what it is like to be a soldier. As I was reading this story I thought to myself that Mary Anne Bell might represent what it is like to be a soldier. When Mary Anne came to Vietnam she was only seventeen years old which, is when men could enlist. She also was described as being very naive and unaware of the danger at first. As Mary Anne stayed in Vietnam she helped out and became desensitized to the horrors of war just like many of the soldiers. Eventually Mary Anne stopped spending time with Mark Fossie and began spending more and more time with the Green Berets. A quote from the novel states "The silhouettes moved without moving. Silently, one by one, they came up the hill, passed through the wire, and drifted in a loose file across the compound. It was then, Rat said he picked out Mary Anne's face. Her eyes seemed to shine in the dark- not blue, though, but a bright glowing jungle green. She did not pause at Fossie's bunker. She cradled her weapon and moved swiftly to the Special Forces hootch and followed the others inside. Briefly, a light came on, and someone laughed, then the place went dark" (O'Brien,101). This quote just shows how Mary Anne changed throughout the story. She changed just like so many of the men who went to war. 
  The character that I have found myself connecting with the most is Rat Kiley. I believe that I connect with Rat the most is because Rat always takes care of the sick because he is the medic and I feel like whenever any of my family is not feeling well I feel like I need to help them. I also babysit a lot so I always feel like I am always responsible for somebody and that is something that I enjoy. In the book Rat is upset about losing his best friend, Curt Lemon, I also know how it feels to be upset when you lose somebody who means a lot to you. This character shows loyalty to the other members of the platoon. One way Rat does this is by simply by being a medic and he always takes care of people and makes them feel like they are going to be okay even if they are not. 
  The best convention of narrative that I have found while reading is a simile and it is "On occasion the war was like a Ping-Pong ball. You could put fancy spin on it, you could make it dance" (O'Brien, 31). I find this convention of narrative the most important in the book so far because it just is deep and it explains how Tim O'Brien feels about the war. He is saying that you can make the war anyway you want to and the war also has different meanings to everybody. Throughout the book O'Brien uses many great analogies that helps the reader understand what war was about. 
  Throughout the book there are many great passages that exemplify where the writing is at its best but one passage that stood out the most to me was "War is hell, but that's not the half of it, because war is also a mystery and terror and adventure and courage and discovery and holiness and pity and despair and longing and love. War is nasty; war is fun. War is thrilling; war is drudgery. War makes you a man; war makes you dead"(O'Brien, 76). I believe that the writing is at its best in this passage because it shows that war contains so many different feelings. The passage is basically saying that being a soldier makes you feel invigorated and also war can make you feel dead inside. War is a conflict within your own conscious.


  1. I really like the passage you chose to use because of all the emotions that can be involved in war. There is nothing else that can do that to a person in the world. Me along with most of the population can't fully comprehend that because we have never experienced war first hand. That is why I respect veterans and current military personnel because they know what they are getting into but still serve there country.

  2. I also thought the use of similes was one of the stronger conventions of narrative used. The similes that are used do very well in demonstrating to the audience all of the highs and lows for the soldiers during the war and the emotional struggles that they encounter.

  3. I also really liked the passage you chose. I think it shows how, in general, things are what people make them out to be. War is obviously not a very pretty or pleasant thing, but O'Brien seems to think that you can make anything seem better to you if you try. Talking about the way having a "fancy spin" or "dancing" makes it seem enjoyable. I think this quote applies not just to war but to everything. if you try, you can make everything have it's own fancy spin. You can make anything enjoyable if you tried to.


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