Tim OBriens The Things Thy 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 pressure 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 a specific, conscious detail and utilizing connotative diction, OBrien thoroughly and convincingly makes each point.
The violent nature that the soldiers acquired during their venture through 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 it participants. One of the soldiers, Norman Bowler, otherwise a very gentle person, carried a ThumbThe Thumb was dark brown, rubbery to touch. It had been cut from a VC corpse, a boy of fifteen or sixteen(13).
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