Eng 1121 Spring 18

Perspectives: The Surreal & the Real

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The Things They Carried

My Initial reaction to the story “The Things They Carried” was an observation. I was observing where was this story going. I was surprised at some of the paragraphs especially the part when they cut off a kid’s finger and kicked his head. I found that disturbing and cruel. It was grimey how they just did that and didn’t have feeling towards it.It made me think what is really going on when ” Soldiers” are out fighting for our country at another country SMH

Blog #3 the Things They Carried

Besides the obsession one may call it love Lt. Cross shows for Martha this shows people tells people of the horror a soldier faces. It’s not all about feeling power, the sights of war breaks almost everyone. Some are strong enough to survive but some return broken  being half the person they used to be or someone else. They carry “shameful memories,” “emotional baggage,” they can’t unsee the pain, suffering, guilt, horror it’s become a part of them that so often they see their brothers in arm die over and over for the rest of their life. Lt. Cross is a good example that on the battlefield one cannot show emotion beacuse in one second everything can change. Good men are broken and this story gives a glimpse of what lies behind the life of a soldier.

Blog #3 The Things they Carried

The story The Things they Carried is a very upsetting yet informative story about Tim O’Brien who is a Vietnam war veteran. He tells us about his personal experience in the war and how he dreamt of a life with this girl he was obsessed with.  O’Brien also talks about how the war left emotional and physical scars that will haunt him for the rest of their days. O’Brien used intangible objects to show how each character in the story is different. The character that I wondered about is Lieutenant Jimmy Cross because to me it seemed that Cross had an odd obsession with this girl he knew from back home. His obsession with this girl named Martha made me feel uncomfortable and disturbed because of the things he said he wish he had done to this girl. Cross obsessed some much over this girl that he fantasized whether or not if she is a virgin or not and he fantasized about the time he touched her knee which kind of disturbed me. I got a perverted vibe of his character and that made me question what the hell am I reading.

Blog #3 “The Things They Carried”

This story, “The Things They Carried” is told by an unnamed narrator. Lieutenant Jimmy Cross is the person whose story we are told in third person.  Each soldier is introduced by name and also by the tangible things they carry with them. The narrator lists all the tangible things that the soldiers carry such as, hygiene supplies, weapons, food, water etc. Each detail given about what they carry is selected carefully to be later explained in the story. By listing what each individual soldier carries with them it gives the reader insight on the personality of each Soldier. For example, Dave Jensen carries “a toothbrush, dental floss and several hotel-size bars of soap” because he practices field hygiene. We’re also told Henry Dobbins carries extra food rations because he is a big man. We get many examples of the intangible things they carry and why. The narrator also explains that each soldier carries intangible things with them as well. They carry “shameful memories,” “emotional baggage,” pain, fear, desire, along with pride and dignity. So often they see their brothers suffer and die without having the time to really react to the situation or time to properly grief. Though they were trained to fight alongside one another, no one is ever prepared for the horrors of war. As trained soldiers they’re expected to be tough and keep moving after the many tragedies they will face. The truth is they’re scared. As the narrator points out, while they are under attack they lay there wondering if they will be next, promising that they will become better parents as though that might save them from dying. They hold anger towards the soldiers who injure themselves to be able to return home. The interesting part is they are also envious of them. They found a way to escape the environment they’re in. Throughout this time, Lt. Cross is in love with this woman named Martha, obsessed even. He knows she is not in love with him and she never will be. Still, she’s his main focus. He carries around her letters, pebble she sent him and he pictures. In a way, his escape is all the time he imagines spending with her. He makes up scenarios in his head of them together. This distracts Lt. Cross and when Lavender dies, he blames himself for being distracted for not being the best leader to the team he’s fighting beside. Once he realizes the damage he’s done while being busy fantasizing about Martha, he burns her letters and pictures. He then becomes present in the moment. He promises that he won’t be so lax with his soldiers. That even though they may not like it, he’s going to be a strict leader to prevent another tragedy because of his inability to focus on his leadership. Lt. Cross will now always carry the guilt with him. This story teaches us that there is so much more to war than what civilians can physically see. These soldiers carry emotional baggage. They carry the heavy burden of the horror that is war.

The Things They Carried

Tim O’Brien illustrated the emotional strain each solider carried through the various items they carried.   Aside from the 25+ lbs of ammunition and rations, they carried their fear of death, their emotional baggage, and secret cowardice.  This was shown mostly through the description of Lavender.  While some men showed their fear of dying by using “hard vocabulary to contain the terrible softness”, Lieutenant Cross used his death to work through his relationship with Martha.  He felt shame and responsibility for his death because he thought he focused more of Martha rather than his men.  Regardless of the fact that she showed no true interest in him, he held onto her pictures and letter as a way to hold onto something outside the war.  He would daydream of NJ and life outside of war while in the trenches or while on look-out as his men went through tunnels.

The things they carried such as pantyhose and bibles and letters held such a strong contrast to the pounds of ammunition and guns.  They were all young and afraid of dying.  At the same time, they would leave ammunition and rations for the sake of losing weight and moving faster.  They would walk towards gunfire and would feel more safety from the bibles than from the things that they were meant to carry.  It felt as though the item they brought along represented the “other life” outside of war.

There was also this separation from death.  They said it wasn’t “cruelty, just stage presence.  they were actors and the war came at the min 3D.  When someone dies, it wasn’t quite dying, because in a curious way it seemed scripted… and because they called it by other names, as if to encyst and destroy the reality of death” (1288).  All of the soldiers kept talking about it with such disconnect, saying it was like watching a rock fall, no drama, and how it seemed un-Christian to feel relief that it was not them.  The lieutenant even cried not because of the death itself but because he loved Martha so much that he was distracted from his work.  The death only represented his shame in his leadership skills, not that he missed Lavender at all.

The solider that carried the thumb also struck me in the story.  He kept talking about the moral of the story and brought it up twice.  It seemed as though his point was, there was no point; that he can kick a dead body and take the boy’s thumb but it means nothing.  The war meant nothing, and they all joined because of the fear of being humiliated not because of what it represented.

Blog#2 The Blessed House

The blessed house was an interesting interpretation of how two completely different people get married and try to adapt to their new lives. Sanjeev and Twinkle are two completely different people who meet each other one day and then in a short time span they get married barely knowing one another. Now this marriage is very complicated because Sanjeev and Twinkle are both Indian; however, Sanjeev is old school meanwhile Twinkle isn’t into old school marriage. For example, Sanjeev believes that a wife is supposed to be this person who stays home and cooks and cleans and does whatever she is told; however that’s not the case. Twinkle is quite the opposite of what Sanjeev expected a wife to be, she’s outgoing she doesn’t care about what others think about her. Sanjeev believed that moving to America getting married and buying a new house would give him this perception of the “American Dream”, but the American Dream is really a myth and by him trying to control Twinkles actions to impress others he failed to see that being yourself is what it means to be American. Sanjeev was just too stubborn to see things Twinkles way and that was his issue with the marriage.

Blog#1 The Yellow Wallpaper

The Yellow Wallpaper has intrigued me; with the way the marriage between the main character, and her husband was portrayed. The husband in the story was portrayed as controlling and stubborn, because he never took the time to try and listen to his wife when she had complaints about certain things. One pattern I noticed while reading The Yellow Wallpaper is how the husband is always neglecting the wife by prolonging her thoughts and ideas by telling her save it for tomorrow or by telling her to go to her room. The husband also infantilizes her by calling her little girl or little goose instead of calling her a woman. While the husband is very controlling and some what abusive the wife is very patient and she tries to understand that he does for her is for her own good but to my eyes it looks like he doesn’t want to deal with her so he neglects her. This marriage is truly messed up because of lack of communication and understanding, the husband chooses not to communicate with the wife and he refuses to understand her so he forces her to go to her room.

The things they carried

In the story “The Things They Carried”, American soldiers  in Vietnam carry more than just their necessities for war.  Tangibly they carry canteens, bombs, guns, pictures of their lovers, cigarettes but they also carry intangibles things which also carry an invisible weight.

For example, the author talks about how they carry a burden of their lives,  grief, terror, love and longing.  Tim O Brien weaves the pattern of the visible and invisible things they carry by mentioning what each soldier had in their personal belongings but also what significance these items had.

Lavendar had in his bag, dope and tranquilizers. This man obviously carried the fear of death. Yet Lavander was the one to die. This irony points to the uncertainty of events in war and it creates mixed feelings of love yet hate as it did for the 24 year old Lieutenant.

This story had a sobering effect. It was the real lives in the eyes of soldiers and men of war. The reality of war was that there were bouts of fear and even cowardice. Sometimes there was even humor because they had to just “keep going” as the narrator says.

Soldeirs Home carries a weight as well that was intangible. An episode of war carried both a physical and emotional loss. The common thread of these stories it seems was the consequence of war whether it was durin or after war.


Patricia Lee

renee mans blog #3 The things they carried”

Tim O’Brien’s story, “The Things We Carrried” is very sad in a way. The Vietnam War used young men to go into war. None of them were mature enough to handle the emotional scars this war would leave. In my research I read that Tim O’Brien did an interview where he tells  that he was an actual soldier in the Vietnam War. He stated that, “we all carry physical burdens and spiritual and mental ones, and he wanted to convey that in this story.

O’Briens use of tangible and intangible things was interesting.  All the soldiers were carrying their own burdens , aside from the physical load that all soldiers must carry to survive. each soldiers carry was unique to him, just as his mental burdens were personal to himself also.

I liked that O’Brien used lots of juxtapositions. It made the story better. It was easy to see things as a reader from the writers point of view. One example of O’Briens use of a juxtaposition was, the soldier Kiowa. He carried a bible but also carried his grandfathers old hatchet. the Bible representing a symbol of peace and love and the hatchet was a weapon that was a symbol of violence. These items were tangible. Kiowa also carried something intangible, which was his distrust of the white man.

Overall, I thought this story was interesting.


Renee Mans.

Blog Response#2: This Blessed House

It’s always been interesting to me how arranged marriages sometimes really do end up working perfectly the way I think they were meant to. Sanjeev and Twinkle seem to be having a rough start in their marriage. Sanjeev is clearly someone who is more interested in what others think of him rather than what he thinks of himself. Twinkle is quite the opposite. She is a free spirit who is still a bit traditional but has an extremely curious mind and isn’t afraid to explore. Given the differences between the pair, this is one of the arranged marriages that seems like it might not work out. Twinkle tests Sanjeev many many times with the religious things she finds in their new home. She sees them as something that must be of importance and are worthy of keeping around. She doesn’t see them as something threatening to herself or her beliefs. Sanjeev however, is more concerned with what his colleagues will think when they come visit. In some ways he does see those things as a threat. The thought of not pleasing those around him at work seems to scare him. He seems very insecure as opposed to his wife who just does as she pleases. She doesn’t seem to fight or argue too much with Sanjeev even though she is aware of his insecurities and the fact that he is more concerned about what outsiders think of him than what he or she thinks of him. I think this shows that Twinkle has hope that he will eventually come around. Sanjeev seems very tense and serious in the beginning, but towards the end it seems like he is taking things with more ease. At first, he seems unhappy with Twinkles ways and wants her to be more like him. Twinkle doesn’t pay mind to him. Instead she is patient with him. Sanjeev says “But instead of feeling irritated, as he had been ever since they’d moved into the house together, he felt a pang of anticipation at the thought of her rushing unsteadily down the winding staircase in them, scratching the floor a bit in her path.” He uses the word “anticipation” and its not in a negative way. He understands why Prabal thinks that Twinkle is “wow.” I think at this point Sanjeev is either remembering the early part of their relationship and is happier with his wife or Sanjeev has gotten the validation he sought from others and is now more at ease.

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