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Word Count: 2,276
In Timothy OBriens novel The Things They Carried a number of insightful themes are forwarded by the author One theme in particular interests me the most the subject area is how people handle their emotions through the avoidance or distortion of reality Specifically throughout the novel a number of characters respond to the emotionally charged realities they are confronted with in one of two major ways distortion or escapism This pattern shown throughout the novel surveys one manner in which humans approach the rough emotions they carry with them throughout their life To support this thesis I will analyze a number of characters responses to emotional stressors and compare them against my claims of escape and distortion reactions I have identified two major ways the characters I analyze respond to their realities in this novel distortion and escapism When I identify something as distortion I intend to imply that the characters take the edge off of the reality of their situations by making the events they encounter seem less real Examples of such behavior would include finding humor in otherwise horrifying situations or even romanticizing the environment around them to make it seem something different than what it is The escapist manner of reacting to the intensity of emotions is to distance oneself from the actual events or surrounding To accomplish this all a character needs to do is to daydream themselves away from the problem or to create alternative realities in their own mindIt is important to establish that OBrien develops the premise that the emotions and situations these men had to deal with were very intense and traumatic Beyond the more or less obvious contention that dealing with death and war might be painful there is textual support that OBrien is trying to get this message across On page 20 the narrator says They carried all the emotional baggage of men who might die Grief terror love longing-these were intangibles but the intangibles
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