Response to The Things They Carried
In The Things They Carried, by Tim O’ Brien, the author tells of several short stories that portray the horrors of war and how they can affect soldiers. These horrors have an adverse impact on the soldiers, and as a result of this, they are led to many dishonorable actions, such as Rat Kiley’s self-inflicted pain, Norman Bowker’s suicide, and the desertion and death of their squad mate, Kiowa.
When the platoon is in the foothills west of Quang Ngai City, they receive word of possible danger, so they sleep during the day and march at night. The tension affects each man in different ways – Lt. Cross takes caffeine pills, Jensen takes vitamins, and Rat Kiley retreats down, and just stops talking altogether. For six days he is silent. One day; however, he starts talking again, and he doesn’t stop. He confesses to the other soldiers that he believes he isn’t cut out to be a medic, and that he envisions the bugs eating through his skin once he is dead. The next morning, he shoots himself in the toe. No one blames him for his actions, and Lt. Cross, one of the biggest criticizers of Rat Kiley’s cowardice, says that he will vouch for him.
After the war, Norman Bowker returns to Iowa. On the Fourth of July, as he drives his father's big Chevrolet around the lake, he realizes that he has nowhere to go. He reminisces about his high school girlfriend, Sally Kramer, who is now married. He thinks about his friend Max Arnold, who drowned in the lake. He thinks also of his father, whose greatest hope, that Norman would bring home medals from Vietnam, was satisfied. O'Brien says that in 1975, right before Saigon finally collapsed, he received a seventeen-page, handwritten letter from Bowker saying that he couldn't find a meaningful use for his life after the war. Norman Bowker had hung himself.
Two main people in this book blamed themselves as the fault of why Kiowa died the way he did. The night the platoon settled in a field along...