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"Past is Past" but "Present" is "FUTURE" - Asra

The Things They Carried

  • Date Submitted: 03/18/2015 08:38 PM
  • Flesch-Kincaid Score: 75.1 
  • Words: 1068
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The presence of fear in someone’s life causes him or her to act differently. A teenage girl might respond to the presence of a spider by being courageous and killing it. A grown man might be ashamed that he is scared of heights and the dark. The consequences that fear has are often similar for everyone. In his novel, The Things They Carried, Tim O’Brien tells stories of the Vietnam War to illustrate how courage stems from the fear of death and the presence of shame, as well as how fear causes shame.
When in the presence of fear several of the characters in O’Brien’s novel respond with courage. In the chapter “Enemies,” Dave Jensen breaks Lee Strunk’s nose in a fight. In most other situations it would end there, “[b]ut this was Vietnam… and Dave Jensen [starts] to worry”(O’Brien 59). This fear multiplies until the only way out is courage. Jensen breaks his own nose in order to escape the fear he is dealing with. He has to muster up the courage he has to take the pistol to his own nose. Dave Jensen is an example that O’Brien uses in order to demonstrate how the presence of fear can lead to acts of courage. Jensen also shows the reader how acts of courage that come from a place of fear are an attempt to get rid of some of that fear. O’Brien takes this same relationship and puts it in a different light in the chapter “Ghost Soldiers”. In this chapter Rat Kiley is making rounds in the middle of an insane battle. There are “guys running and laying down fire and regrouping and running again, lots of noise, but Rat Kiley [takes] the risks”(O’Brien 180). This crazy battle puts fear into the air. Everyone that is present fells the fear. Rat is courageous by taking the risk to check on Tim several times. This helps to erase some of the fear that Tim is feeling from being shot. Rat is another example that O’Brien uses to show his readers that courage can come from fear. Rat demonstrates how the fear that pushes one to act courageous does not need to be individual. It can be...


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