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Word Count: 1,507
Tim OBriens The Things They Carried is not a novel about the Vietnam War It is a story about the soldiers and their experiences and emotions that are brought about from the war OBrien makes several statements about war through these dynamic characters He shows the violent nature of soldiers under the pressures of war he makes an effective antiwar statement and he comments on the reversal of a social deviation into the norm By skillfully employing the stylistic technique of specific conscious detail selection and utilizing connotative diction OBrien thoroughly and convincingly makes each point The violent nature that the soldiers acquired during their tour in Vietnam is one of OBriens predominant themes in his novel By consciously selecting very descriptive details that reveal the drastic change in manner within the men OBrien creates within the reader an understanding of the effects of war on its participants One of the soldiers Norman Bowler otherwise a very gentle person carried a Thumb The Thumb was dark brown rubbery to touch It had been cut from a VC corpse a boy of fifteen or sixteen13 Bowler had been a very good-natured person in civilian life yet war makes him into a very hard-mannered emotionally devoid soldier carrying about a severed finger as a trophy proud of his kill The transformation shown through Bowler is an excellent indicator of the psychological and emotional change that most of the soldiers undergo To bring an innocent young man from sensitive to apathetic from caring to hateful requires a great force the war provides this force However frequently are the changes more drastic A soldier named Ted Lavender adopted an orphaned puppy Azar strapped it to a Claymore antipersonnel mine and squeezed the firing device39 Azar has become demented to kill a puppy that someone else has adopted is horrible However the infliction of violence has become the norm of behavior for these men
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