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Book Analysis

How Are The Chapters Of The Things They Carried Linked To Each Other? - Shreya Sachdev

The book, The Things They Carried, is written by Tim O’Brien in 1990 and is a collection of short stories revolving around the emotions of men surrounding the Vietnam War. It can be said that all chapters have some common motive and have a theme that is prevalent in each chapter. The following blog post will examine and analyze how each chapter is linked to the other.

On The Rainy River, for example, is about the complicated situation that Tim O’Brien faces when he is requested to go fight in the Vietnam War. He, like many Americans, does not understand the war and does not know much about it. He does not know anything about the prime minister of Vietnam or why he is fighting these people. This is similar to the chapter of Field Trip, in which Tim O’Brien takes his daughter Kathleen to the battle ground. Kathleen does not understand why she is there or understand the war itself. Kathleen’s emotions are similar to those of many American men, who don’t understand why they’re fighting and only understand that it is an obligation for them to fight in the war.

Another instance in which On The Rainy River relates to another chapter in the book is during the chapter of “Love.” In the chapter of “Love.” Jimmy Cross finally decides to let go of Martha, due to the fact that he is embarrassed and blames himself for Ted Lavender’s death. It is this embarrassment which causes him to finally let go of Martha and move on with his life. Likewise, the reason as to why Tim O’Brien finally chooses to go to the war in Vietnam is because he is embarrassed and worried about what his friends and family will think if he does not go to the war.

Another instance in which On The Rainy River relates to another chapter in the book is during the chapter of “Style.” In the chapter of Style, a Vietnamese girl of 14 is standing in the middle of her village and dancing around, despite the fact that her entire village has been broken down and the majority of her family has been killed. Azar doesn’t understand why she is dancing, and begins to make fun of her and intimidate her. Dobbins takes Azar and threatens to throw him in the trash if he doesn’t stop making fun of the young girl. This event is again closely linked to how Tim O’Brien actually feels about fighting in the Vietnam War. It is clear from Dobbin and Azar’s conversation, that Dobbin actually cares about this young girl, because he feels bad about destroying her village and killing her family. Likewise, Tim O’Brien does not want to hurt the people in Vietnam and does actually care. Both chapters show a contrast in how men feel and how men act.

Another instance in which On The Rainy River relates to another chapter in the book is during the chapter of “The Dentist.” In the chapter of The Dentist, Curt Lemon is too afraid to go visit the dentist. When he does go in, he ends up fainting and the dentist can not examine his teeth. Due to the fact that he fainted, all of his friends end up laughing at him and making fun of him. Later that night, Curt Lemon decides to go to the dentist and asks him to pull out one of his teeth, even though the dentist doesn’t see anything wrong with his teeth. Thus, it is not wrong to suggest that Curt Lemon was embarrassed by the fact that he fainted and wanted to be able to show everyone that he faced his fears. This again relates back to the power of embarrassment, as Tim O’Brien also decides to go to Vietnam, because he is embarrassed.

Another instance in which On The Rainy River relates to another chapter in the book is during the chapter of “Enemies & Friends.” In this chapter, Dave Jensen and Lee Strunk get into a fight because Jensen thinks that Strunk has stolen one of his pocketknives. Strunk refuses, and Jensen breaks Strunk’s nose. Jensen is then surrounded by paranoia, and believes that Strunk is going to get revenge, so he tries to make it even by breaking his own nose. This again surrounds the idea of how powerful emotions such as paranoia and worrying about what other people are thinking have on human beings.

Shreya Sachdev