Monday, May 20, 2013

Final Response to The Things They Carried

Even though The Things They Carried is set during the Vietnam War, in what ways is it relevant today, with regard to war and politics as well as our personal struggles?
Share your response and respond to one other response by midnight Monday, May 27th.

102 comments:

  1. The Things They Carried has many relevant aspects, not so much in as what actually happened then, and what is happing now, but the way the book was written it really was made personal to the reader. Even if we never go through anything like what the men in Vietnam did, we still have a pretty accurate description on how they felt purely because of how the book connected to us. We have other experiences that evoke similar emotions therefore we are able to connect with the way these men felt. We can also connect with the book in todays culture, most people don't like war, and are against violence, and protesting for gun control, not as diligent as the protesting against the war, but it is still a movement for nonviolence. I think also many of the personal struggles are the same, the boys at war in this book were trying to figure out how to deal with life, and figure out who they were as a person. Much in the same way that many people today struggle with trying to learn who we are and what we stand for. This book did a great job of capturing emotions that occur throughout life, not just a war.

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    1. I really agree with the whole emotional aspect of the book. I really felt for some of the guys in this book. I like how you highlighted the non-violence aspect of the book. During the time period of free love, war was not a popular opinion. Figuring out life was one of the ways I was able to relate to the book as well. They're trying to figure out how to live, and at this point in life, most high-schoolers are trying to figure out how to spend the rest of their lives too.

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    2. I like how you mentioned gun control and modern protest against violence. Even if the issues and types of protesting are different, the topic as a whole is still relevant. It's also good that you mentioned how emotion and personal struggle are not exclusive to war. Everyone deals with these in some way at some point.

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    3. I like the connection you made with modern protesting. Maybe it isn't quite to the level that anti-vietnam protesting was it is still something we can relate to. Also hitting on the emotional aspect of the book connecting us to the war was a good point as well.

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  3. The Things They Carried is relevant to today's wars and society in many ways. Regardless of changes in technology and tactics, war is still war. There is still death and gore that the living have to deal with. Soldiers fighting today's wars still have to deal with death. Sometimes they must kill to protect themselves and their countries. Other times they may lose a friend or a loved one. Either way can cause trauma, and radically change a person's life. The end of the novel is also very relevant to today's society. It is common for children to die at a young age due to a nasty disease. Diseases such as cancer and tumors can kill anyone. Children today have to deal with death just as little Timmy did as a nine year old. Another common element that is still present today is revenge. O'Brien craved revenged after he almost died at the hands of a young medic. Today's war for America is largely based on revenge. The events of 9/11 caused America to seek revenge after terrorist killed many Americans. One more aspect of the book that is still relevant is the struggle to move on. For example, Norman Bowker is unable to adapt to life after war. Eventually he hangs himself because he can't live in the normal world. It is also common in the present time period to have trouble moving on. Many people struggle handling their life after a traumatic event such as the death of a loved one.

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    1. I agree completely with what Jon said, in how he said that the book is still relevant in today's society. In how much of the same struggles we still go through today. I liked how he related the revenge of today's wars with the revenge of the Vietnam war. A good point also made was how anyone can die at any age. And when people die a great number of mixed emotions are felt, just as it is shown through this book.

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  4. In TTTC, author Tim O'Brien narrates through the life of the American soldiers fighting in Vietnam. O'Brien is able to include many timeless elements in his novel that are relevant today's society such as war, politics, and personal struggles.
    The topic of war is an inevitable one in TTTC. Even though talk of the actual war isn't very prominent, the idea of war and the war itself exists among the setting and plot of the novel. TTTC is relevant in today's society in terms of war because, well, one, we're in a war right now. And, the effects of war of those involved and those at home is growing in importance as time goes on. When the Vietnam soldiers came back from war, they weren't treated very well. In present day, when soldiers come back they're greeted with open arms and tears and much love and appreciation. War knows no race, gender, or religion (even though wars occur because of those things...). War has traumatizing effects on anyone who experiences it firsthand. This idea is captured in TTTC and is heavily relevant to today's society in our own wartime.
    In regards to politics, TTTC didn't contain very much political discussion. But, it did contain an element of politics in society that occur present day, not just during the Vietnam wartime. That element is the existence of an anti-war sentiment among the American people. In the political sphere during this wartime, it seemed that going into war was what America needed to do as part of our containment policy (the reason for war was not discussed in the novel). This same idea is occurring now with the current war the American people are involved in in the Middle East. There is a growing anti-war sentiment at home here. In both settings (Vietnam and present) this anti-war sentiment is expressed through literature. TTTC is relevant in today's society by means of how the political opposition of war is presented to society, through literature.
    Undoubtedly the personal struggles appearing in this novel are timeless and quite relevant to today's society. To name a few; long distance relationships, unrequited love, coping with loss, experiencing guilt, making life-changing decisions, etc. The most prevalent personal struggle I found in TTTC that is extremely relevant to today's society is morality. Every soldier experienced a test of their morality whether it was involving conflicts with fellow soldiers, maintaining their sanity, and even submitting to a war draft.
    TTTC encompasses the lives of American Vietnam War soldiers in a unique and creative way that couldn't be replicated. O'Brien is able to include themes and motifs that are relevant to today's society not just during Vietnam wartime, and that is what makes it such an effective novel.

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    1. Even though you probably wrote too much, i really like what youre saying here. YOuve really covered all the topics and your analysis of the anti-war sentiment in politics is spot on.

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    2. from Paige Andresen
      I really like that you contrasted the way Vietnam soldiers were treated upon their return and the way soldiers are treated are treated when they return now. For me, it's hard to imagine a time when soldiers weren't respected and treated as heroes. I'd like to know what you think caused this change. Do you think the terror caused by 9/11 prompted such extreme support for the current wars that it completely altered the way our country views war? It seems like the public only supports war when they feel personally threatened.



      I think my favorite thing you said was "War knows no race, gender, or religion (even though wars occur because of those things...)." This is completely, 100% true. It's funny that the very causes of war cease to be of any importance during the actual war. War will take any person, no matter what race or history, and completely change them. If you're on the wrong side, you get killed. It's really that simple. "The Sweetheart of Song Tra Bong" captures this ideal perfectly.




      I thought your third paragraph was your weakest point. Your other arguments were very clear and concise; I had a hard time understanding what you were saying the first time through. I understood when I read it again; however, it would have helped to have some examples to back up what you were saying. It is very true that anti-war sentiment is represented through literature.

      Overall, I thought your post was thoughtful and interesting. Don't listen to Alec--there's no such thing as too long!

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  5. The Things They Carried (TTTC) can still be relevant in today's society because of the unique perspective it gives of a solder's point of view. Tim O'Brien was able to capture the fear that the solders felt, and the harsh reality of PTSD. The Vietnam War has largely been viewed as a blunder on the part of the United States. Most of the solders that served in the Vietnam War didn't do so willingly. The Draft was put into effect and thousands of people were forced into service. They returned scared and expecting a hero's welcome. All they received was scorn. TTTC was able to capture that feeling of helplessness and despair the solders felt during their time in Vietnam. In the story about Norman Bower, he couldn't let go of the past. He drove around and just thought about how he almost won his Silver Star. He wants to talk about it but he's unable. Bower know's that no one will understand how it feels. Norman Bower hung himself because of the stress. War will always be hell and good people will always die fighting other people's wars, TTTC will always be relevant because of this. People never think of the solders as an individual, yet that's all they are. TTTC allows people to understand how Norman Bower felt. This book allows people to see war from a new point of view and that is why it will always be relevant in society.

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    1. I really like that you talked about the reality of PTSD and The Draft. Those were two things that I didn't talk about in my own post, but I agree with what you're saying. I also really like that you mention that people forget to treat soldiers are individuals, because I think that is a timeless problem in war that O'Brian wanted to address to the reader.

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    2. I liked that you said "People never think of the soldier as an individual, yet that's all they are.", because I think that is a mindset that almost everyone not involved in war has, including me. Before I read this book, I thought of soldiers more as a green colored mob, mortal yet with no sense of emotion almost. Now that I think of it I never really stuck a face to them. It's sad because I think I had that view because I grew up with the images of war all around me, so much that I became desensitized. It was interesting getting a glimpse of what it's like emotionally during and after war. You also brought up a good point about Norman Bowker not being able to deal with the memories of war. Perhaps if he was able to use stories like O'Brien to diminish the stress and hurt that came with war he could have evaded suicide.

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    3. Like Vanessa said, I like that you brought up PTSD. I also like how you brought up the draft. “War will always be hell, and good people will always die fighting other people’s war” is also a really good point that you brought up. You’re incredibly right. People are fighting other people’s wars, and not by choice when I came to Nam. Not many people voluntarily went into Nam. You made a good point.

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  6. One obvious relation to The Things They Carried and to today is the idea and nature of the war being fought. The war in the Middle East is not a war where the enemies are always clear. Just like it was in Nam, you don't know if a villager is on the American side, the enemy side, or maybe they're even neutral to the whole thing. There's also the fact that neither the Middle East or Nam is/was an official war. The war in the Middle East officially came to an end years ago, and has since then been a revitalizing effort. Just like Vietnam which was never declared a war by Congress, which is required in order to be a war. When down to the cogs in the machine, soldiers will always face the problems of war. There are many young guys overseas right now just like they were back then. And as long as you see combat, or at least the results of combat (medic, etc) you can assume a psychological impact on those having to witness it. There's also the home front similarities. As the anti-war sentiment in the USA grows over the Middle East, it's becoming closer and closer the anti-war sentiment during Vietnam. Protesters stormed the streets to oppose Vietnam. Now we aren't there yet in this day, but it could very well get to that point if the body count rises.

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    1. I like these specific connections you made to the war in the story and the war today, I never even thought about some of those things. I also like how you pointed out how similar these two wars are and then said what could happen to us in the future. It's a good point and a definite possibility.

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  7. The Vietnam War was a very controversial time period in American history. We saw major protesting among the young citizens, who were being drafted into a war they hated. It was a divided time, which is sometimes compared to another civil war.

    Today, we are currently in Middle Eastern countries fighting for the exact same thing. America is trying to ‘help out the little people’ while also trying to influence other countries into democracy. Just like during the Vietnam era, there are a lot of people against this war in the Middle East. It’s putting our country in debt, and wasting young lives.

    The Things They Carried ties perfectly into how our society is today. America is once again trying to spread democracy in a war that is hurting our economics, and dividing our country.

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    1. I agree with a lot of what you said. I think the situations are similar. War is war. I think the intentions of spreading democracy is okay if it's to get people out of oppression are great, excellent in fact, it just sucks when war is the process to come about that. When you look at it though, it sometimes does just appear that war is "hurting our economics" & "dividing our country. I think that we as a society are still split, but mainly for social reasons and for political parties' different perspectives on everything.

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  8. The events in The Things They Carried have some close similarities to events going on now. We are fighting a war right now and, like in the book, there are lots of anti-war feelings. Our soldiers today are dealing with all of the things the characters in the book had to deal with: sadness, disparity, loss, and struggle to cope. Many young soldiers fighting in the war today probably don't even know exactly why they're fighting, like the soldiers in the book. The book also shows the soldiers' horrible time when they got home from the war such as Norman Bowker's story, and hundreds of soldiers are struggling with the same thing today.

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    1. I definitely agree with you. Although how people get involved in the war has changed, the wars themselves haven't. The men and women who fight for their country sometimes find it hard to cope after the war. Returning to normal life can become very difficult. Norman Bowker's story was a true testament of what PTSD (which he clearly had) can do to a person. I also agree that some may not completely understand why they are fighting.

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    2. Megan- I liked the point you made on how people getting involved in the war has changed. That was a difference that hadn't occurred to me, and I think it's an important one.

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  9. The Things They Carried is relevant today in several ways. No matter when or where a war is being fought, some of the struggles will be the same. Soldiers will always feel fear, pressure, and guilt about what they have to do. There is the obvious fear for their own safety, pressure at home to do what's honorable for their country, and the guilt of killing people who may or may not be innocent. Struggles like these are relevant in any war situation. It was the case in Vietnam, and it is no doubt the case in the Middle East today. Each one of the soldiers in the book had their own story, and their own personal battles that may or may not have related to war. Regardless of who you are or where you come from, everyone has personal struggles. Whether they come from fighting in a war or something that seems much more insignificant, everybody faces their own difficulties in life. This book does an excellent job of demonstrating the personal hardships of people for a wide variety of reasons. Losing friends, difficult relationships, guilt, and feelings of isolation are things that everyone can relate to, at war or at home.

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    1. I like how you point out that regardless of the time period, everyone has personal hardships. You did a really good job making the connection from the books time to now personal. I also agree that war is war, and there is still the natural fear of killing or being killed. Do you think there is a change in the kind of fear in the book compared to current wars?

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  10. The Things They Carried is similar to today because no matter what time era, war is war. The time is different, the place is different, and the technology is different but it is still war. People everyday in war die, get injured and experience trauma. Back then and today, we still have people who are for and against war. In the time of the book people were protesting the war because they didn't feel we needed to be over there. Even today we have people who want us out because they do not see the point in us fighting. In TTTC, we are reading it from a soldiers perspective so we are allowed to witness what they go through. Soldiers today also go a little crazy and traumatized through and after war. After returning from war no matter when, you are left confused and hurt and just try the best to get back to normal life.

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    1. I really like how you said no matter the era war is still war. This is so true. No matter what we're fighting about people are still getting killed and are being traumatized for life. It's sad to think that as a country we are making these men go over and fight in a war that they might not even agree with and utlimately ruin their life whether they die or not.

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  11. The events that happened in The Things They Carried are similar to events in not only our wars today but also day to day life. In TTTC war is something that isn't ideal and that is the same as today. Back in Vietnam the soldiers didn't get beat up physically but mentally and emotionally too. Coming back home they also had a hard time getting back in to a routine and they just couldn't cope with their experiences. This is true to today because no matter the war the soldiers will see things they can never erase and that can take a toll on someone emotionally. Also, some people don't agree with war in Irag just like people didn't agree with Vietnam. Back during Vietnam people protested against the war where as today people are protesting against terrorism, gun control and mainly they're protesting against violence. No matter the year I believe we'll be able to make connections between all the wars.

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    1. I really like your point at the end about being able to make connections between all wars. I also believe this is true because most people are unable to understand the experiences that these soldiers go through. Also your point about people opposing war is also true because there will always be people against violence.

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  12. The problems that are addressed in the things they carried still carry over today. Similar issues still exist in th Political system and we have had many traumtic war related events. The way we forced these young men into Vietnam cant be that much different from how we forced them over to the middle east. Also the emotions that the soldiers make in this story are relatable in any time period no matter waht. Its what unified people then and it helps people unify now. War has been a constant topic of conflict since the Vietnam War and will continue to be one for a very long time.

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    1. I think the emotions part of your reasoning is very true. They way the soldiers felt really did unify these soldiers not only in Vietnam but also when they came home. This happened because unless you went through it yourself. And they people who go through these traumas definitely need someone else to lean on and talk to. When you said war is a constant conflict that is very true. Even before Vietnam war had been dominant in many societies. People seeing that as being the only way to end an argument.

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  13. There are things that are relevant from the war in Vietnam and todays society. The first and foremost is that today the soldiers that come back home have the same feelings and are in the same situation that the soldiers in Vietnam had. When they come back they really have no place in society and it almost seems completely new to them because of the experiences they had in war like Norman Bowker. He was unable to adapt to everyday life and he eventually ended up hanging himself. War in the first hand is something many people really have no clue about which is why many soldiers have this feeling of loneliness and depression. People just don't understand what these heroes have gone through and it also doesn't help that they have been discriminated against when it is not their fault that they were in the war in the first place. This book really gives the first hand experience of what this feeling is like. This is probably the most important connection regarding todays war and Vietnam.

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    1. I agree with what you are saying about them feeling depressed and how its the same in today world. The discrimination against people who fought for our country was not right. The book definitely gives that experience of the feeling.

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  14. In The Things They Carried, even though it takes place during Vietnam, it is relevant today because there is a war going on right now. Even though we are fighting in the war O'Brien gives us a pretty good idea of what fighting in a war is like. He gives us an idea of how hard it was for the veterans and when they come home how we miss treated them. Politics weren't really talked about in this novel but I feel that where there is war politics are involved. At this point in history I think that we could not really trust our government because we had no idea why we were over in Vietnam and I think that still to this day we do not our government. I think that the government forcing the soldiers to go to war back then made everything tuff but still to this day soldiers feel the same way. That kind of like depressed feeling and that there is nothing to do. Like war ruined their lives and soldiers today still feel that.

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  15. Although The Thing They Carried may be set during the Vietnam war, O'Brian writes the book in a way that readers are able to feel what he felt, see what he saw, and understand the ways that the war affected the soldiers. I think no matter what the time period, war will always be the same. The things that the soldiers experience, and the way they see things seems very similar despite what war they are fighting in. The struggles O'Brian writes about are common ones, just exemplified. Soldiers coping with the loss of other platoon members, guilt, returning home from war, the way war changes people, missing girlfriends back home, or even the haunting memories the night brings back. These are all things that soldiers fighting even today experience. Whether or not the stories are true is completely not the point of the novel at all, but instead O'Brian wants the readers to feel the way all of the soldiers did. This novel is less about the actual writing, but rather how the reader feels while reading the writing. This makes reading the novel an experience for the reader. I think the way soldier feel during war will never change, and that is exactly what this book wants to get across- emotions are always relevant, not matter the time period. Personal, political, and war troubles are just a few of the things in life that never truly change.

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    1. I completely agree with your point that every war is the same, or at least very similar. No matter what war, soldiers experience fighting and death and that's not something that can be easily understood. So I also agree with what you said about the stories in the book being partially made up so we can understand.

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    2. What you are saying is spot on, know matter what war our soldiers or off fighting the emotions they are experiencing are the same. Tim O'Brien wanted to share all of these emotions with us, like you said he may have even made up a few stories so we can better understand the feelings of war.

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    3. I could not agree more with you. Even though the times have changed, every person leaves with the same impression of war. They experiece the same emotions and even though they may not even be in the same combat area, it is all the same in the end. In the book, The Things They Carried, O'Brien portrayed the book to be antiwar. Even though the stories weren't always truthful, it got the message and emotions across to the audience making the stories even more believable.

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  16. In The Things They Carried there were many issues, whether they are personal or poliical, that are still relevent today even though it took place during the Vietnam war. I think first and foremost its important to say war is war. Whether it happened 48 years ago or now. Soldiers stuggled to deal with war then just like some soldiers struggle to deal with it afterward now. There are things they see that can't be unseen. Granted it's a little different now because soldiers choose to join instead of being drafted. Things they experience can stick with them the rest of their lives, whether they chose the war or not.During the Vietnam war people questioned why the war was necessary in the first place, there was alot of distrust with the government. I think this still happens today. Sometimes society questions the governments decisions, especially with war.

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    1. I like how you involved the ambiguity of the American people's trust in their own government. That was definitely, and still is, a key player in the political component of TTTC. I also really liked how you said, "There are things they see that can't be unseen". That's an extremely valid point in discussion of the personal struggles the soldiers faced in Vietnam and will always face in any sort of war situation. As you stated, "war is war". The effects of war on society portrayed in this novel will remain relevant in any society involved in war no matter the setting or time.

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  17. In the words of Karl Marx, "History repeats itself. First as a tragedy and then as a farce." The war in Vietnam draws obvious parallels with the conflicts in which we are currently involved in the Middle East. The tribulation that was the Truman Doctrine of the 40's evolved into the Bush Doctrine of the last decade. Like Hitler's neglect of Napoleon's defeat in the Russian winters, the recent American politicians seem to have forgotten the gigantic failures of the Truman Doctrine - you can't fight an idea. You can't kill an idea with blazing guns and flying ammunition any more than you can kill a person with animosity. You can, however, blow the legs off an impassioned human with said artillery. Like the veterans of the Vietnam War, the veterans of recent wars have generally been ignored by the government. I was curious, so I looked up the VA's compensation for disabled veterans, and personally I find it rather callous: "Monthly payments for a veteran without dependents range from $123 for 10% disability to $2,673 for 100% disability. We pay higher rates for some severe disabilities such as the loss of use of a limb or an organ." Being completely unable to work as a result of injuries sustained in combat translates into roughly $32,00 a year - well below the average annual salary of about $50,000. I feel that both then and now the government is more or less saying "Well, here you go. Go fight in a war started on false pretenses that really have nothing to do with you. If you die, we'll make sure every damn flag is at half mast, but if you come back injured, well, good luck Kid." Obviously this translated into different things for both generations; by now the government has realized it needs to recognize soldiers constantly lest the public's blind support begin to ebb, but as far as assistance goes, vets are kinda on their own. Veterans lack the assistance they need and have much higher chances of their severe psychological damage causing homelessness and addiction and domestic violence... These are the facts that people ignore nowadays. Everyone is Norman Bower's father; they want to see the badges and hear the heroic war stories. They don't want to be asked to help or open their eyes and realize that the government is tricking- or forcing- naive people with good intentions into doing and becoming awful things. There are stories about soldiers being threatened by their superior officers by asking to see psychologists while on duty in an effort to keep this damning facade of the heroic male archetype that has been a central problem in western society before the beginning of the last millennia. - Sorry if this became incredibly long and increasingly digressive. I realize I started to express my contemptuous attitudes towards the government's blatant hypocrisy, war profiteering brainwashing of citizens...

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    1. I agree with your idea that the mechanics behind they way war is fought leave much to be improved upon. Sending in soldiers who are not passionate about a specific solution to a conflict seems to do nothing positive for a country and leads to needless death. However, I don't believe something bloodless such as a chess match would ever be a practical or accepted way to resolve conflicts, so sadly, slaughter will have to suffice. I disagree with the idea that veterans are simply forgotten, however. During Vietnam, I know, returning soldiers were despised for the war they represented. However, it seems that public attitude has shifted, along with physical rewards. Yes, many awards given to returning veterans are superfluous, however, the support that they receive is substantial. I know you quoted the direct monthly stipend, but there are numerous other resources available to returning soldiers. There is an entire website created with links to resources to help soldiers reintegrate themselves into daily life. In addition, there are job finding services, and soldiers do receive wages while they are on active duty also, so soldiers returning are not simply forgotten and abandoned.

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    2. No no, I recognize that, for now at least, violence is the only way to deal with some problems. You can't exactly try to live in Mr. Roger's neighborhood when another country is staring you down with a handful of nukes. (You can, however, substitute armed conflict with a peaceful protest like how the Indians got rid of the British Raj. People seem to forget that.) The point I was trying to make with my incessant rambling was that yeah, there are resources provided to veterans by lots of charities and whatnot, but with the statistics being what they are, there either isn't enough money to do what's necessary or the money isn't being spent the way it should be. When "More than 25 percent of the homeless population in the United States are military veterans, although they represent 11 percent of the civilian adult population" there is a clear indication that they're being somewhat neglected by the government. I mean, their mistreatment isn't nearly as bad as it was after Vietnam, but this statistic is still a sign that more needs to be done . Perhaps I lost my main topic with all of my ranting and raving, but what I meant to say was people are all for patriotism and claiming they want to help soldiers, but wouldn't do anything like, say, make sure elected officials are going to vote for veterans assistance or vote to raise taxes to help. I mean, yeah, there are certainly a lot of people willing to help via philanthropy, but that's not really where it's needed. Their employers- the government- should be expected to reimburse for all lost wages and rehabilitation for employees, not private individuals. While they're not neglected in the same severity that Vietnam vets were, they're still not given the attention they need.

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  18. There is always going to be similarities between wars, as history does repeat itself. The Vietnam "Conflict" and the war in the Middle East are no different. Just like during the Vietnam war, many people to this day oppose our position in the Middle East. The only difference is on what scale people are showing their stance. While there isn't many large-scale protests nowadays, people still are not afraid to capitalize on their freedom to protest. Just like the Vietnam war, there are many political issues that surround the war in the Middle East. You have those that thoroughly support our position and of course those who are against it. As long as there is war, there will always be those against and for one side. Some other political issues surrounding both wars is for example, many brought up the idea that people in Washington are able to decide whether to send American troops to war, to fight and die for our country, but the fact remains how many of those who are making the decision for war actually have children whom will be on the front lines serving our country. War will probably always be around, and there will always be similarities between wars, because when it comes down to it all wars are just opposing ideas clashing. And as long as man has the ability to think oneself this will always e the case. So it goes.

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    1. I agree with your stance on opposition to wars and how it will always exist. While protesting still exists today, it isn't as prevalent as it was in the Vietnam War. I think that a huge part that is evident in both Vietnam and Afghanistan is government dishonesty. It is hard for the American people to trust their government-and for good reason. As long as there are secrets, there will be opposition to the true cause and reason of the war.

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  19. Though the book is set back during the Vietnam War it shares some of the same struggles we have today. War is war; and that’s all it’s ever going to be. Every time we learn about war it’s the same basic story, we’re fighting against an enemy with death and insanity as witnesses to it all. During the Vietnam War there wasn’t much support coming from back home and even when the soldiers did return they weren’t greeted with the typical post-war hero’s welcome. That’s because Americans were confused by Vietnam. They didn’t understand what we were fighting for, and this is because the government wasn’t giving them any straight answers. I believe this still happens today, where in some cases we as Americans don’t understand some of the major decisions our Government is making.

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    1. You make a strong point about the timelessness of war. No matter how advanced we become as a global society, the phenomenon of war will never change. Although strategies, technologies, and purpose will evolve over time, the way war affects those involved will remain constant. Something about people (who are fighting on orders) killing other people (who are also fighting on orders) will forever remain an international trauma.

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  20. This book is very relevant to today. Wars are still being fought now, and the soldiers fighting out there present-day are having the same experiences described in the book. "The Things They Carried" explicitly proclaims that we are all human. Even the war can't make you numb, there are just ways of coping with it. All of us carry a burden inside us. Jimmy Cross carries the unrequited love of Martha, which brings him just as much pain as the war does. Others, like Norman Bowker carry emptiness and loneliness. This book provides short stories that give us a glimpse of how real these people are, and how they experience pain just like we do. It connects us to them, and brings us closer. It is also relevant because stories live on forever. There is always something to be learned from them, that's how you can tell if it's a true story or not. But this book tells us that it doesn't matter if the facts of the story are 100% true. As long as it makes us completely feel the emotion that the story teller intended then accurate facts do not matter. The short stories in "The Things They Carried" can never be distinguished as true or untrue. All that matters is the emotion or that moment in time was properly described to make others feel the exact same thing.

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    1. I agree that the continued existence of war means that this book will always be relevant because it describes a nearly constant phenomenon. I also agree that the book’s description of the burdens each character carries illustrates a universal human characteristic and is therefore still relevant. I like how you said that stories live on forever and their truth is irrelevant as long as they make the reader feel what the author intended. I feel like the stories were the author’s way of coping with what happened to him, which is why he was able to say that they weren’t true. He wasn’t trying to convince the reader of anything, he was just trying to make sense of that time in his life.

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  21. TTTC is still relevant today because it is about war, and war will always be around. Vietnam was a different kind of war than any we had ever fought before so i think that the way that O'Brien wrote this book is fitting because no one has really ever done it like he did either. That's another reason why this book is relevant, not just for it's content but because of the way it is written. O'Briens book isn't even about war so much as it is about just death. I think the death that O'Brien dealt with in Vietnam played a huge part in reinventing the deaths he had dealt with prior to the war so TTTC was like O'Briens way of dealing with that deal and more or less venting about it.

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    1. I hadn't really thought about how the deaths O'Brien dealt with during the war could be connected to the deaths he faced before the war. I think this is a really interesting point. He spends the book discussing war stories: their morality, their "truths", their place in society. Then at the end he talks about Linda, his first love who was taken from him long before the war began. Maybe this was done to orchestrate the importance of story telling and memory as a whole and not just specifically war stories.

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  22. The Things They Carried has many aspects to which it is relevant to today. The United States is actively fighting a war in the Middle East; however, this war is much more accepted than the Vietnam one. Currently, there are little to no protests against the war in the Middle East, Vietnam was a different story. There were many protests as well as the fact that the up and coming generation was against old values. People during the Vietnam era were against fighting in the war, so when the draft came along they were even more resistant.
    One big difference between today and the war in Vietnam is that the soldiers of today are welcomed home with open arms. Vietnam veterans were basically shunned and ignored, even though they fought a war they didn’t want to fight. Another thing is that now, people enlist in the military every day, just to serve. In the Vietnam era men and boys were forced to fight through the draft, these guys were drafted into the military against their own will and forced to fight a war they hated.
    Protests were common in the Vietnam era, not to mention the hippie movement. In that time, the baby boomers of WWII were growing up and deciding they didn’t like society, so they basically turned it upside down and up came the hippie movement and protests against the war. While we do have protests against the war nowadays, there are obviously no humongous peace fests like Woodstock.
    One could also say that soldiers now and soldiers then possessed many commonalities. The men coming back from the war are different, and The Things They Carried shows that through the stories and occurrences. Readers figure out that the characters were having a tough time, just through the way O’Brien tells the tale. Here we see how the soldiers are affected, physically and mentally. The point is that they don’t come home the same, either way the people serving will be effected for the rest of their lives.

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  23. Regarding war and politics, The Things They Carried is a valuable account of the toll that war takes on innocent young people. It is relevant today because it is a reminder that countries don’t go to war, people do. The book isn’t explicitly anti-war, and it never feels like the author is trying to persuade the reader of anything in particular. However, the author’s powerful descriptions of the things he and his friends felt during the war are certainly things to think about when one considers the cost of fighting a war, even if it’s for a good reason. The book is a reminder that the decisions made by politicians have an immediate and sometimes profound impact on the lives of many innocent people and should not be made lightly. The author expresses his frustration with the ignorance of people who don’t know what’s going on in the war and who are politically uninvolved in the issue. For today’s average person, The Things They Carried is a reminder to not be complacent in one’s own government, but to understand that, by casting their vote, they are affecting the future of thousands of innocent people and they shouldn’t take that responsibility lightly.
    Regarding personal struggles, The Things They Carried will always be relevant because it illustrates the power and importance of stories. This book is essentially a collection of war stories, most of which, the author repeatedly admits, are not true. By writing the book in this way, the author calls attention to the fact that the validity of his message is not dependent on the factuality of his evidence. This seems strange, but is actually a nearly universal truth. Movies, novels, and T.V. shows are seldom about things that have actually happened, yet they still have value. Regardless of their absolute authenticity, stories matter. They make the abstract concrete. They give meaning to what would otherwise be a series of random happenings. They give meaning to life. In this book, the author describes how he learned that stories have the power to comfort, to explain, and to even bring people back from the dead. His proof of the worth and necessity of stories is something that is certainly still relevant today and always will be.

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    1. I really like your comment about how the book "is a reminder that countries don’t go to war, people do". I think it really sums up part of the novel's purpose in a really good way. I also agree with what you have to say about the novel's messages on stories, though your comment got me thinking. I understand that stories have some value that's separate from truth, but do you ever think there's a situation where stories don't have some sort of value or purpose? Does O'Brien try to prove within his novel that all stories have purpose, or does he try to prove something else?

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    2. That’s a great question Chris. I personally feel like all stories do have a purpose because someone had to put effort into making them up and therefore must have had a reason for doing so. A purpose might be ambiguous or not universally agreed upon, but its existence is proved by the deliberateness of the creation of the story it belongs to. In The Things They Carried, each story must have been one that O’Brien felt needed to be told. Since the stories aren’t true, O’Brien must have had a reason for writing each one, even if it was just for himself. History happens on accident, but fiction happen on purpose. I also think that O’Brien was trying to show the powerful things that stories can do, like bring people back from the dead. So, overall, I think O’Brien was proving that stories have value and, therefore, purpose.

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  24. The points made by Tim O’Brien in his novel aren’t specific to one generation or era. The outward destruction and loss of human life that the public sees in times of war is nothing compared to the internal grief and trauma of the soldiers still alive. The news and more visual, mainstream media can only cover the range of what happened, providing a concrete concern and sadness about the physical destruction of war. They miss out on the inner damage of the soldiers. Even today with more advanced film technology, a true picture of a soldier’s plight is difficult to obtain. The psychological effects of even modern wars are glanced over without delving much further, leaving veterans distraught and unable to express themselves truly and accurately.
    O’Brien’s view of the disconnect a soldier has from the war itself also seems to be present in current conflicts. Going back even further, Slaughterhouse 5 also has this kernel of universal truth embedded in it. It seems that at any time, no soldier has a clear, defined idea of the exact purpose of the war and supports it unconditionally. The individuals that believe in the war are generally the ones back in the safety of their home country, sending orders from their comfortable lounge chairs that may lead to the deaths of many of the soldiers in the field. Billy Pilgrim had no true vision for the motives of the war he was involved in, the soldiers in The Things They Carried seemed to have no idea of even the reason they were fighting, and modern soldiers may be drafted into a war that they have no passion for.
    The concept of a “true war story” that O’Brien presents seems to extend outside of war stories also. Even in daily life, an individual tells tales to others about funny incidents of the day, exaggerating some parts and leaving out others in order to convey the emotions the storyteller felt to the listener. Telling stories is a way people learn more about each other and form close friendships and relationships. It is far more important to convey the essence of who a person is than to methodically tell an exact transcription of events. As a listener, you learn more about the heart of the person you’re talking to through their perceived truths than you do by objective, unbiased recollections.

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  25. The Things They Carried is centered around the Vietnam war. Although this happened years ago, one can see the relation between the time periods. Obviously the easiest connection to make is the wars. We are in a war now just like we were then. The war itself is different but the general idea is the same. It’s still a group of men (and some women) fighting for their country. Some don’t even know why their fighting. The fighting itself is similar as well. Some of the same techniques are still used such as, guerrilla warfare and the use of guns and grenades. The politics have changed in a way. The government is more open as to why we are fighting, but not all missions are shared with the public. Due to the fact that the book doesn't really discuss politics, it’s harder to make this connection.

    Another relation to make between Vietnam and the wars now is the effect on the people fighting. It’s very common to develop PTSD. With all of the fighting and death all around a soldier they can find it hard to adjust to “normal” life. Many soldiers also tell war stories. The point of these stories isn't to tell about some heroic person, but to tell what really happened. O’Brian wrote books to get out his war experiences and cope with his feelings.

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    1. I agree that the politics of war have changed. At the time of the Vietnam war there was a lot of speculation and unanswered questions as to why the government found it necessary to enter Vietnam. At the same time it may have been harder to understand because the issues did not directly affect the US. Comparing it to the war we are in now, it is more clear what we are fighting for because the event of 9/11 directly affected many Americans.

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  26. O’Brien’s lack of war logistics allows readers to focus on emotional impacts and makes the novel extremely relevant and relatable. O’Brien says war is Hell. We are well into a new century, but today we’d most likely say the same. O’Brien sheds light on the emotions and motives behind all the violence and seemingly heartless acts of war. This has much to do personal struggles. Often, background stories are overlooked when a terrible deed is done even today. The same happened when Rat Kiley shot at a baby water buffalo through his pain. O’Brien mentions that some old lady would be upset about the buffalo, thus completely ignoring Rat’s suffering. Another timeless aspect of personal struggles is the need to just let it out. When we have problems, we often want to talk about it before we burst. Norman Bowker wanted to talk about his experiences, but didn’t know how. His pain was bottled up for a while. Norman eventually committed suicide. Today, we see many suicides occur when people don’t know who to go to for help or don’t tell anyone about their problems.
    The politics in the storyline was in the robotic style of the soldiers. They didn’t care about the war. They were only there on orders. When O’Brien’s daughter asked him what he’d wanted in the war, he replied that all he desired was “To stay alive” (183). This is similar to politics today. Not everyone is constantly gung ho about every law congress passes and every new policy the president issues. To be quite honest, most of us don’t care. We’re all really just along for the ride.

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    1. I agree with everything you've said. A connection I didn't think about before was that the background stories are overlooked. There's always a motive for everything being done. Rat Kiley didn't just shoot the water buffalo to be violent and horrible, but it helped him deal with his pain in some way. People just see the action usually, and don't stop to examine the reason it was done. This is definitely true today. Nowadays people tend to just see things on the surface, and not delve deep to get down to the bottom of something.

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    2. I think the relation to most of our country's citizens lack of political efficacy is very astute. Even though we can read books like this and hear terrible stories, or read in the newspaper how one politician or another is ruining our state, many people genuinely don't care.

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  27. The Things They Carried discussed the aspects of war and how they personally effected each of the individuals involved. This is true no matter what time period the war takes place in. Regardless of the specifics surrounding the it, war continues to hurt and ruin people to this day. “War is hell, but that's not the half of it, because… war makes you a man; war makes you dead.” There is no better way to explain the effects of war than to emphasize the terror of war. War kills and war hurts. War is dangerous, deadly, devastating, and excruciatingly bloody. The Things They Carried was able to encompass this in a way that brought the reader into the cold reality of war itself.
    However, The Things They Carried focused solely on the war's effects on the soldiers and their personal burdens. The book neglected to address the other people involved in a war. War is not just soldiers running around shooting at things and people. War is also leaders, victims, and innocent lives. War is about the people at home, looking on, waiting, hoping, for the return of their loved ones. (We love you, Kenny!) War is so much more than what The Things They Carried depicted. War is pure devastation and agony. “I survived, but it's not a happy ending.” In war, there is no happy ending. There is no promise of tomorrow or a smile offered to a friend. War is simply the encompassment of pain and regret and that is timeless.

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    1. I like that you emphasized the effect war has on citizens and innocent bystanders of war. I agree that there is no happy ending in war, because if there was, it wouldnt be called war, it would be called a fairy tale.

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  28. Although The Things They Carried takes place during the Vietnam, many of the aspects of war and personal struggles have not changed since then and are very similar to today.
    Anti-war sentiment remains high in the United States today as it did in the time of the Vietnam War. Many people, college students especially, protested the Vietnam war-mostly because the cause of the war was very unclear. Similarly, today American’s oppose the Afghanistan war because they don’t see the necessity of our position in it. If American’s don’t see what their fighting for to be a just cause, they will make their opposition heard.
    Many people today struggle with bravery, similar to O’Brien. A big difference in today’s society is that there is not a draft, so it is the choice of the American people whether or not to enlist. Even though people today get to choose if they would like to serve, it can be difficult to find the bravery to make that decision. Finding the courage to serve their country and make their families proud is similar to the process that O’Brien was forced to face with his draft notice. Today, people are still making courageous decisions.

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  29. The experiences chronicled in The Things They Carried apply to wars today in regards to politics and personal struggle. The struggles, hardships, and feelings of the soldiers portrayed in the novel are timeless in war. No matter the time period, soldiers that have left home to fight will always experience a number of hardships for example loss of a friend, traumatizing experiences, injuries, tests of morals, or missing friends and family back home. No matter the time period war is a scary place that can change people. I think the theme of war changing people was portrayed well in the novel well, through characters such as Mary Anne. And as we learned through Vonnegut, war can have long lasting impacts such as PTSD. Situations like these are not limited to a certain time period, for despite technology and the way we fight may change, the horrors of the experience still leave a scar. People back home experience it too, for they may have a loved one fighting or believe that the war is uncalled for. Anti-war sentiment is timeless as well, for humans will always be capable of producing their own opinion. Strong advocates or opposition will always be present.

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  30. I feel that TTTC is very relevant to the modern world. Men of both times are going out to fight wars that are questioned by people in the government. Both wars were in foreign lands filled with people who could had a 50/50 chance of being the Americans' actual enemy due to a lack of actual uniform. Both wars created PTSD for many survivors and memories that may never be shared. The wars separated soldiers from loved ones, strained family bonds, and sometimes ended relationships. Both current wars and the Vietnam conflict were wars that that were started by the acting President of the United States. Some soldiers and people at home disliked the war as a whole and advocated there beliefs while others advocated their support of it.

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  31. In the Things They Carried, there were problems that affected people personally and politically and are relevant in today's time. No matter how many people think differently about war, in the end, it is still war. Even though our nation has evolved from year to year, in the end, it is all the same and still affects the same people. The struggle and hard ship are still the same. Soldiers leave for war and experience the same things men and women experienced many years ago. They still have the struggle when they get out of the war. Every soldier leaves with their special belongings that will help them push through. The objects are the things that keep the fight going for them. When dramatic things occur in the war, it cannot be taken out. What they see will affect them for the rest of their life. Often times, soldiers leave the war and when they come home, they experience PTSD. Times have definitely changed. Instead of being drafted into the army, most soldiers now a days, enlist themselves. During the Vietnam war, there were many protests and debates on the war and why there was a war. If I lived during that time, I'm sure I would be questioning the same thing. There was a lot of hardship in the United States during that time and the government was caught right in the middle. Even today, US citizens point to the government for answers about war and why it is necessary.

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    1. I like your line, "The objects are the things that keep the fight going for them". A lot of soldiers in the book did (by our standards) terrible, violent things. Seeing as some of them weren't quite sure what the war was for or who the enemy is, it's important to question the driving force behind their actions.

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  32. The Things They Carried is relevant to today in, well, the things we carry. Obviously nobody is carrying around tons of war supplies, but O'Brien's observations concerning the ‘weight’ of all the things we carry are still correct. Everybody has intangible things (emotions, memories, events, etc) they carry along with them and they have tangible weight that affects a person's day to day life. The Things They Carried is also relevant to today in the form of fragmentation it presents. To Tim O'Brien, the Vietnam war was so damaging to his mental stability that his memory becomes severely fragmented. I think this happens a lot today too. When people experience some sort of trauma, they often lose track of their memories and either misplace or simply erase them. This happens a lot in people with unpleasant childhoods or who experience tragic deaths of loved ones, and also among people who either fight in or live through war.

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  33. The Things They Carried, while dubbed a war book, is incredibly one-sided in regards to its description of the Vietnam War. Rather than focusing on mechanics of waging a war, the book examines personal effects and individual stories. However, I don’t mean it’s one-sided in only focusing on soldiers; rather, the book only looks at the American side of the story. It doesn’t offer reasons for the war or major effects of the war on Vietnam. This one-sidedness, present at the time of the Vietnam War, is present today. While in the book it pertains to war, nowadays we see it in politics. There are many debates over common issues today (economy, environmental policies, religion) that only look at one side of an issue. This stubbornness, while debilitating to progress, is essential in maintaining a democracy, and thus will persist through the ages.
    As to personal struggles in the book, all of the individual stories and hardships are relevant to today. Jimmy Cross opens the book with his one-sided love affair with Martha. Though he is separated from her by war, the theme of unrequited love is universal, no matter the circumstances. Ted Lavender carries drugs to deal with nerves, something everyone can relate to, no matter the severity. Kiowa carries a copy of the New Testament and a sense of superstition. Everyone then and everyone now holds some beliefs, even if they don’t carry a specific religion. There will always be loss and accompanying pain, not necessarily related to war. This assurance of calamity is what guarantees the relevance of the personal struggles in the book, no matter the year.

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    1. Mimi,
      What a terrific point of view you have taken. I like that rather than analyze the aspects of politics then to politics now, but rather compare how the book was written to politics of now. That was a very unique way to go about it.

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    2. Mimi, I liked your point on how the book focuses only on the one-sidedness of the war and how you relate it to politics today. I agree that the opinion of something changes dramatically on the perspective and point of view. You made a good comment on how many issues today are only viewed from one side. If they were viewed from the other, one's opinion may definitely change! I also agree that the war focuses mostly on the American side of things. Obviously, the Vietnamese experienced similar effects of war but I'm sure many people's perspective would change if we had their take of the story as well.

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  34. While there are multiple things from TTTC that are still true in todays war, the one that most sticks out to me is the emotion and effect that war has on people. The majority of people would not see a baby buffalo and think "hey, im gonna shoot it. A lot." Instead they would help the innocent creature. In TTTC when Rat Kiley shoots up the buffalo for the same reason the rest of us would have saved it. In my opinion, he hated the innocence it represented and was angry that he couldn't again have the sheild of inmocence to guard his brain. Today, are all kinds of stories and reports of soldiers doing things that the rest of us deam cruel. I'm sure there are many more that no one has ever heard as well.
    As far as politics are concerned, the anti war sentiment in america today, while not as great as during Vietnam, is still present. In fact, I'm sure a lot of voters from this past election would tell you that ending the war is a reason they voted for their favorite candidate. Anti war sentiments will always be present in the future, just as they were in the past, and are today. What americans have to realize is that no one likes war, not even the people we are fighting. The viet cong didnt set out to have huge numbers of their citizens killed. Until the day people realize that both sides are suffering, nothing will change. With every bullet that takes the life from a human being, there is another reason to hate eachother, which only fuels the emotions and rage within the person pulling the trigger. A message that stays true both in TTTC and today, is that we must first look at ourselves, and then to the enemy. Instead of the other way around.

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    1. Christine,
      You had a wonderful tone to your way excerpt. Your piece was very emotional and that tied very well to the emotions that you speak of. The line "Until people realize that both sides are suffering, nothing will change." really stuck with me. Bravo.

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  35. The wonderful thing about novels is that they have no expiration date. Your milk sours, your bread molds, we all slowly wither away, but words within a page simply have the timeless ability to escape mortality. The story is alive. It is connecting with the reader, all the while sparking memories and creating feelings that are all too real to them both. That is why in The Things They Carried, Tim O’Brien’s recollections of war touch me although I, myself cannot truly imagine a war I haven’t lived through. Looking at the populace of our country as a whole; it is very war-loving. Young people seem very eager to serve their country by going to fight; yet most are very ignorant in the manner of doing so. It would be befuddling and come as a complete shock if the teenagers with a simple high school diploma acknowledge the extent of the war they are fighting. Thus, just like many of the young men lost to war O’Brien immortalizes in his stories, who he describes as unpatriotic, cowardly, and preoccupied, a similar inadequacy still exists for many of those fighting today. I think that with his war stories, O’Brien wanted to make people more understanding of how complicated and brutal war is.
    An even stronger way this novel affected me is by the way I could relate to a lot of the personal struggles of the soldiers. I appreciated that O’Brien brought those to light because when I used to think of those fighting a war I never thought about the intangible heavy baggage they carried. In fact, I guess I sort of dehumanized them in my mind because they were involved in such callous events. Although there are many different kinds of struggles that the author delves into, like his own pangs of guilt and Jimmy Cross’s unrequited love for Martha, I think the way he portrays using stories, fantasies, and dreams to cope is the element of his novel that is the most timeless. To elaborate, in my life, I know of people who value movies and hold them at a much higher regard than just a typical pastime. Perhaps, they have found solace in these digital stories that take things that lack any happening-truth and create an even livelier story-truth, which through feelings helps them discover greater meaning in the course of their life. Tim O’Brien focused a lot on this idea in The Things They Carried, especially when he told of how he coped with the death of his first love, Linda. He goes as far as to say the stories he created in his mind saved him in the end, and what better evidence as to the wholesomeness of our words and the powerfulness of our minds.

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  36. I think the thing that strikes me most as relatable to today is the show of human cruelty. We so often look down on people who do terrible things without considering the circumstances they're under. I'm not saying that doing cruel things is right or justifiable, but we shouldn't look at people who do bad things as lower than ourselves. Each one of us has the capacity to do evil things when stretched to the limit, as many of the men at war did, and sometimes still do. I think that TTTC does a very good job of showing an ugly truth about human nature without flinching and without leaving anything out that might offend people or make them upset. Even though he didn't necessarily tell the "truth" he revealed a truth to us.

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  37. TTC relates to today's world just as much as when it was written. The thing that struck me as the most relatable aspect is the play on innocence. This war that the soldiers fought was not only against others but also against losing themselves. The story of Little Timmy really speaks to this idea. When Linda dies Little Timmy loses that special something that makes the world beautiful. The same thing happened to the soldiers in war.
    The same thing happens today all the time. People will always struggle within themselves and experience something that takes the rosé colored glasses from their grip. To me that was the backbone of the story and its what will always remain true. The idea that innocence is lost everyday.

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  38. TTTC is incredibly relevant to today. I believe that it will always be relevant to society because of war being its topic of discussion. We are a species that constantly fights over something; constantly at battle or war. For the people back home, TTTC is an eye opener. There is a wide variety of people that don’t know what being in the midst of war is like. Everyone has seen the romanticized view from Hollywood. But for those who have never been in battle, this book opens their minds up to the actual emotions of war. O’Brien doesn’t write about war strategy or how to attack the enemy; O’Brien writes about the affect war has on a person, and how it is different for everyone. Think of Bowker, he committed suicide after the war. Think about Azar and how he murdered an innocent puppy. Think about Rat who tortured a baby water buffalo. Without the setting and pressure of war, would these men have exhibited the same behaviors? TTTC lets us understand what they are feeling, and how it can be considered normal under the conditions of war. It makes me think about personal struggle, and how everyone handles things differently. Rat singing “Lemon Tree” as he pulled down the severed body parts of his best friend. The soldiers have to function with death surrounding them. They also have to find ways to cope with being torn from their loved ones, whether it be the long distance relationships, or death of a best friend in battle. The book really made me realize how hard war can be mentally. I don’t think I could do it. Politically, Nam has a lot of parallels with our current situation in the middle east. None of the soldiers want to be fighting. Not many people know who is on what side, or if they even picked a side. In Nam and the middle east, a city could be filled with innocent civilians, or rage filled civilian armies. Nam wasn’t even technically a war. People fought and died in something that was considered war, but was never declared it.

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  39. The Things They Carried can still be appreciated today not just because of the great story, but also because of the ever prevalent elements of war, politics, and personal struggles that are still relevant today.
    The element of war in TTTC is present but hidden. Because it is an anti-war novel the tactical aspects of war aren’t present rather the emotion that runs with wars is. Anti- war sentiment was around then and can also be found in today’s society. Many people are sick of fighting the Middle East, when a lot of times we were there for no good reason, think Iraq in some opinions. This is very similar to the feelings Tim O’Brien portrayed in his novel. When he tells his story of being called to draft and how confused he was to why he was called, but more importantly why were they even fighting a war? Some of that confusion can be found in politics.
    Tim O’Brien mentions in one of his chapters that he wasn’t even sure what he was fighting for and that the government had no answers. There are a lot of people in America that have no clue as to why the war we are in right now are being fought. Even the government doesn’t have an idea as to why they are in the war. And even if they do, sometimes they don’t share it to avoid chaos.
    I think the most relatable part of the book though is the personal struggles. There are many emotions running through TTTC, and at at least one point in the novel each person can relate. It might not be the same struggle but it is the same emotion. For example, when O’Brien talks about using Canada as his escape but upon confrontation with reality he finds he didn’t really want it. I found that moment very relatable. I myself have felt that desire for a fantasy but when it came to reality I really didn’t want what I had thought I had fancied, and like Tim O’Brien my decision was partly because of what others would think of me. There were many other moments like this one that I experienced that were related to the struggles many of his characters were going through.

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  40. I think that the messages from The Things They Carried are still very relevant to today’s society. The idea of war still holds true today. The United States is still involved in many violent conflicts around the world. Although these conflicts aren’t as big as the Vietnam War, a war is still a war. People are still dying and suffering. War is still an important part of our society, and many people still suffer from the effects of war.
    The political message that was revealed in The Things They Carried is also relevant today. There wasn’t much mention of the politics of the war -- the soldiers never talked about the political leaders of Vietnam or the reason behind the war. This “ignorance” towards politics by the soldiers is similar to society today. Most people don’t know (or care) about the inner workings of the government. Except for some landmark bills, most people don’t know the names of the bills that are being passed through Congress. The Things They Carried showed how little the average person cared about politics, and that still holds true today.
    The Things They Carried also showed how some people deal with personal struggles from the war. Tim O’Brien wrote stories to deal with the war memories; Nathan Bowkins used a noose to deal with them. This is still true today. PTSD haunts many veterans and many people use different methods of dealing with the memories. The Things They Carried showed that everyone uses different methods to deal with the war, and that is indeed relevant to today’s society.

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  41. While The Things They Carried is set during the Vietnam War, it is still very relevant and relatable today. What makes this book so relatable is the fact that it is a “true” anti-war novel, true as in what Tim O’Brien dubs as true. This “trueness”, whether the story is exactly factual or not, is really what helps people relate to the story. It means that these things feel real, they are what people could see themselves doing and feeling.Its not like those hero stories that just get the response of “Oh wow! How brave! I could NEVER do that!” but The Things They Carried is different. You can feel yourself in it, just being one of the men, just trying to survive another day.
    Besides the “trueness” of the story, the actual facts of the story are also relevant today. Both the Vietnam War and the war that the U.S is currently involved in are very lengthy wars and both had some confusion on what they are fighting for. With The Things They Carried one gets an inside look into the minds of soldiers who don’t have much of a cause. Yes, the Vietnam War had a much greater number of these men than the wars today due to the draft but this inside look is still very useful today. I personally am now confused as to what we are currently fighting for. At first it was against terrorist but now we are just protecting people in another country? To me this kinda sounds like how the Vietnam War began. People are confused and with The Things They Carried we can see how people would feel if our current problems escalated and can realize that history can repeat itself. This shows that, not only can we relate to this book, but we can also learn from it.

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    1. I like how you talk about the true war stories and how they should affect the reader. The stories that could be true or not shouldn't matter as long as you believe it's real. I like that. I also believe what you're saying about the current war we are in. I, myself, is not certain exactly why our troops are in another country wasting time "protecting" other people when they should be protecting our people back at home. We have lots of issues back in America to sort out before we go around "helping" other countries.

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    2. Hi Tabitha, I really liked your post. I agree with how you felt that the book made the reader feel like they were with the soldiers. I actually felt this myself as I was reading the book. O'Brien's writing really caused me to feel like I was with the soldiers. In fact, when Kiowa died, I actually felt a bit sad because he had been such a nice guy (from the way O'Brien described him). I never realized that the "truthness" and the look into the minds of soldiers were what helped to get me to look at the story from the soldier's point of view. And secondly, I agree about your question about the Vietnam War. It does kind of raise some questions...perhaps the citizens of the countries that we're "helping" may actually be seeing us as the bad guys? I'm not sure, but it's definitely an intriguing question that your post brought up. Good post!

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    3. Bringing up how the "true war story" aspect helps readers relate was a good point. I think it's good that readers are able to more easily relate to the book, as it can help them shape their own views on today's current war related issues.

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  42. I think the message from The Things They Carried (TTTC) is relevant to today's society. What struck me the most was Norman Bowker. Knowing some people that have had experience in the war, I see that they most resemble Norman. Norman wants to tell his story and I feel if he talks about it, the weight will be lifted off of his chest. Then again, he feels like no one is listening or wants to listen. Unfortunately, sometimes we don't. The citizens that come back from the war should have extra attention otherwise it may result in serious mental problems and even suicide. Comparisons to politics in the book not so obvious as personal struggles. Americans from that time and today generally don't like war and wants to keep America away from it. Even with that, America still gets dragged into wars that we shouldn't be in. With the Vietnam war, many believed that it was not our place to be there and the same goes for the wars we are in now. Though we know the mistakes America and the government made then, we still don't try to change it now.

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  43. The Things They Carried is still relevant today in many aspects. I agree with many of my peers above with the fact that "war is war" and how the emotional toll on soldiers is unchanged from how it was then. I also agree with the comparison between the current situation in the Middle East and the war in Vietnam as many of the factors and goals are essentially the same. I feel that today there is a growing sense both antiwar and antigovernment sentiments, much like those existed during the time of the Vietnam War, and these are able to be justified by many of the same things seen in The Things They Carried. These sentiments were and are still fed by the tragedies of war, shady government actions, and loss of lives. I think people can also still learn a valuable lesson about human nature from the novel as well, people will do whatever it takes to survive. This is seen over and over in the book as O'Brien tells how his fellow soldiers let their comrades die in the field or instinctively throw a grenade at an enemy on the trail. If more people understood how soldiers had to feel when events such as these occur in real life, they might have a deeper respect for our current and past veterans.

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    1. I completely agree with Kyle on this situation. I feel as if you hit the nail on the head with his statement about respect for veterans. Nobody besides other war veterans really know what it feels like to be put into a situation where it is "do or die". Soldiers do what it takes to live. They look out for themselves. They aren't these big brutes who live to fight, at least for the most part. They aren't sure as to whether they'll make it to dawn the next morning. What pushes them forward is instinct, which is the instinct to live. As you said O'Brien displayed this extremely well in The Things They Carried, such as when he threw the grenade at the Vietnamese soldier and killed him. O'Brien couldn't ever really get past this. It shows truly how painful war is. It will always be like this. War is a constant detriment to this world. It will never go away.

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  44. War. War never changes.

    Even if The Things They Carried is a bit yellow in the pages, warfare hasn't changed so drastically since Vietnam that its messages have been lost. People still go to war with ambition and glory-lust and come back with PTSD and missing legs. Governments still start controversial wars that the people are unwilling to fight in. Soldiers still come back, many scared and dead inside, wondering what they're supposed to do now.
    Even more than that, though, the struggles presented in TTTC haven't changed either. Numerous people the world over have to do things that generate hatred. They hate their superiors for making them do it. They hate the higher-ups for being unsympathetic. Other people hate them for doing it. And they hate themselves for doing it regardless. It's called office work now.

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    1. Yeah, it really doesn't change. Although office work is slightly less mentally draining than warfare, I really enjoyed the idea behind your post. People are always stuck doing things they don't like for people they don't like to either get things they kinda like or not die. That makes the book relatable to everyone, even those who haven't experienced a war.

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    2. You raise a very good point Grant, war, or in actuality the idea of war, does not simply exist on battlefields today. The burden of carrying out another’s deeds at the loss of your personal well-being has become ingrained in American society. It is what office work is, it’s what a medical internship is, it’s what the stupid job an American teenager has at a fast food restaurant. However, these tedious tasks offer us a chance to improve ourselves. One can always work towards a promotion or a full medical license, regardless of what the present looks like. However, we know that you don’t always get the promotion you desire. This mirrors the unfair nature of war – you do all of the right things, do all of the drills, triple-check your ammo levels and supply rations, but in the end, you end up biting the dust regardless. Such is life I suppose.

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  45. Although The Things They Carried took place many years ago in the Vietnam War, many aspects of it are relevant today. With regards to war and politics, the conditions of war today, at Vietnam, and in the future are similar and will be for many years to come. Even though the scale of the Vietnam War isn't the same as today, it is war nonetheless and has the same terrible effects on people. Soldiers are away from their families, are living in less than ideal conditions, and are killed or injured everyday. The problems soldiers face today and at Vietnam are still relatable both emotionally and physically. TTTC relates to personal struggles as well. Just like today, people have their own issues in life and the book does an accurate job of depicting everyone’s individual problems rather than the entire war. Each individual is affected differently by the war and comes up with their own means of dealing with it. Ted Lavender uses tranquilizing pills and drugs to deal with the war and Kiowa always carries the New Testament around. Although we did not live in the same conditions people of the war had to deal with, we will all experience some of the same struggles sometime in our lives, such as losing a loved one, coping with grief, having to deal with long distance relationships, figuring out what to do with your life, and making important decisions. People may face these any day of their lives and will have to deal with them one way or another. TTTC is a book that portrays the lives and struggles not just relevant to the Vietnam war but also today.

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  46. War is not entirely made up of soldiers fighting for their brothers and their county. There will always be a seemingly innocent part of war, the part in which young boys and men, still green behind the ears, go off to fight other young boys and men, sometimes even getting to the point at which they’ve had enough and cry for their mommies. Does this not seem childlike? Unfortunately, war does not tolerate children. It does not show them mercy or pamper them with gifts. In a way, war is the ultimate judge. It is impartial to everyone, does not show any bias, it even lacks a conscience to get in the way of a final judgment. However, a being that is impartial to everyone is fair to no one. Something that shows no bias tells no truth. One with no conscience has no foresight. War is the perfect judge, but humanity is unable to remain in the presence of perfection. War is still very relevant to us as human beings today because it still exists in the world. This is redundant, simplistic, and utterly true. Young men and women still go off to risk their lives on account of another man’s political agenda. War still remains a huge factor in elections. However, if one looks away from the material world of politics and foreign relations, and instead looks at one’s inner self, one will find that external wars mirror the conflict of the human soul. A human soul is spilt into two sides, but these sides are hard to quantify as good and evil. They instead represent contrasting viewpoints, different ways of approaching things. Yet regardless of what they represent, they are locked in a constant conflict, always at each other’s throats. For them, showing mercy would mean defeat. Yet these two forces are governed by forces largely outside of their control, forces that they are sometimes entirely unaware of. These forces are known as society. Society controls these contrasting sides, makes them fight for its own agenda, and the contrasting sides are still unaware of it. Yet even through all of the brutal struggles of war, even through the eternal conflict of human nature, there is still room for personal betterment amidst the desires of others. There is still a place for honor, bravery, courage, and all of the things humanity associates with war, regardless of whether or not the conflict stems from you or from another man. The Things They Carried encapsulates this message by saying that all men carry their own personal struggles and handicaps with them in the face of a much larger picture, but that each of them can become a greater man by shedding those burdens and realizing that as only one man, they are more important than the now petty conflict that they used to worry about.

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    1. I agree with josh in the fact that war does not pamper those involved. Young boys are forced into a upset and distatorious situation to fight. They are also faced to grow immediately. The leaders in war don't care who fights as long as they have someone fighting with the illusion they will be award honor. However, I disagree with Josh's point that TTTC is about the men gaining impowerment. I believe that this novel is to bring attention to the over glorification of war.

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  47. The Things They Carried is truly relevant to today even though it is set during the Vietnam War. In the obvious way, today is Memorial Day in which we honor those we’ve lost and respect those who risk their lives for our freedom. Those who come home from war, like many did today, might go through a period of "recovery" from all of the traumatic situations they’ve experienced. Like in this book, these men have changed because of war. My deepest respect goes out to these men and women for their sacrifice. I also agree with Amalia with the idea of human cruelty. How could someone justify something so horrible like killing another human being or burning down a village without being in war? And even then, does that make it just? Once in war, instinct kicks in only to avoid being slaughtered but at the same time we lose all sense of humanity. TTTC is one of the best books I've read all year due to how real the characters become. Each character can relate to us in many ways, especially if we have gone through tragic experiences.

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  48. The Things They Carried isn't just another "book". It's a book that has a message and it will always be relevant. It won't just serve a purpose now or when it was actually written, it will be relevant into the future. Many years from now The Things They Carried will be remembered not just as a war book but as a book that displays human struggle and human compassion. Obviously, the Vietnam War is set during a different time but it still somewhat applies to today. Soldiers die, civilians are murdered, and politics are politics. Soldiers aren't forced to join the military today as many were during the Vietnam War, but they are still afflicted by the horrors of war. They are constantly in the face of death and afflicted by the deaths of their comrades. War will always be war. It's not pretty and it surely isn't pleasant. Men are forced to kill other men and that is traumatic for many. Men now and from any time period observe horrors that are so vivid and real that they relive them for the rest of their lives. PTSD is no joke and can afflict any soldier during any time period. Many soldiers will blame the political party that is in control. The blame will be put on the President of the United States and the Congress. People will always be split down the line due to the political party they are in. This didn't really apply to The Things They Carried however. War may change due to technology but the core ideas in war don't change. Thousands if not millions die and pain is felt all around the world. Life goes on though. It always does.

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  49. The Things They Carried has a myriad of different characters. They all go through their own personal struggles, and sometimes it seems like the dead ones are lucky. Of course, there will always be war, as long as there are people, but the stories in the novel don't apply just to victims of war. The best part of any good book is its ability to relate to the reader, and TTTC is really good at that. Just because I've never been in a war, does not mean I didn't feel sorry for Ted Lavender and his puppy. The stories may be fake but the emotions and in some sense, the experiences are very real. The reason TTTC, and any other novel is relevant today, is because of the emotions they bring to the reader. It doesn't matter what's going on in the current world. TTTC is static, and as it is read, the horrors of Vietnam become real again. This would still hold true even if the world was in complete peace.

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    1. I really like your explanation of the book connecting to the reader and how the emotions are what's real. It goes back to O'Brien's explanation of truth, which really stuck with me, and how a lie can make a story more true than a story of what actually happened.

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  50. Let me start off by saying that The Things They Carried has become one of my favorite books. The vivid imagery and deep meanings made me fall in live with the story and the characters within. Now, while the aspects of war and politics are still very much relevant today, I believe suffering and personal struggles are larger themes. The fact that built up personal suffering has damaging effects on a person is shown in the story of Norman Bowker, who had little to no output for his troubles after the war, which eventually crushed him under the emotional pressure. However, in a more positive light, the novel also uses O'Brien's childhood girlfriend, Linda, as an example for carrying on with life after a tragedy and being able to deal with personal suffering in an independent way. These themes are relevant and will remain relevant throughout history. Even without the strains of war and politics there is always be suffering, personal or otherwise. And the way of coping with said suffering will always change the outcome.

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    1. I like how you addressed the larger theme of personal suffering. We all experience life differently. I know that I tend to assume that others experience things the way that I do. I think depression is something that is very stigmatized in our society. For example, I've heard people making fun of others for self mutilating. Everyone deals with suffering in a different way. I definitely think O'Brien was trying to comment on that.

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  51. Though the things they carried is about the Vietnam war, many of the points and truths that Tim O'Brien brings to light still hold true today. One being the psychological effects that a solider goes through on the front lines and upon return. War screws up soldiers forever, they will never be the same. That was true in the 60s, and it will be true for every war. These soldiers have seen death and destruction first hand. Many have killed another human being, and that's something they have to live with their whole lives. Even though our country has gotten better about PTSD treatment and working through the problems, it's still a huge struggle that never completely goes away, as seen in Norman Bowker's story. War is still very robotic today also. By robotic I mean that it is systematic and there's not much room for emotion. Soldiers become brothers with their platoon, but have to be ready for anyone to be killed at any moment. They have to learn to deal with death and control their emotion. Death becomes an everyday occurrence. No wonder they have psychological issues. Another good point that O'Brien makes is the public's reaction to war. When visiting Vietnam with his daughter, she asks why there was a war. O'Brien answers that he doesn't know. This represents a big chunk of America. Many, many people ask themselves the same questions to this day. What is so terrible to fight over that we sacrifice human lives? Civilian lives? Is the cause of the conflict worth a war? Numerous people protest war today, and question political officials and hold signs and rally and a ton of other things. Most of America, like O'Brien's daughter, wants to know why we're fighting. This has been true with all wars, even current wars such as the war in Afghanistan. The main point is war is war. It's never been good and it never will be.
    from Amber Lange

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  52. I think the best thing about this novel is that instead of just encapsulating facts about the Vietnam War, O'Brien doesn't put emphasis on the specific war much at all. He focuses much more about the feelings surrounding the war; by doing this, O'Brien really makes The Things They Carried a timeless novel. His stories encompass war, politics, but most importantly personal struggle. In my opinion, the novel is much more about the internal conflicts the soldiers face rather than the war itself.




    One thing about war specifically that seems to be timeless is the transformation of boy to man (or girl to woman--women soldiers just weren't addressed in the book.) This concept is literally represented in "The Sweetheart of Song Tra Bong." Mary Anne shows how the most innocent, young, and naive soldiers can be transformed into something unrecognizable by the war. For centuries, war has been putting men and women face to face with death. No matter the age, circumstance, or gender of the soldier, war has the ability to seep into people and take hold of them. O'Brien's own transformation is made more visible at the very end of the novel. On his fourth day of war, O'Brien could barely handle the sight of the dead villagers and the joking manner in which his comrades treated them. However, although he never fully got over encountering death, he became a lot more nonchalant about it.




    As a novel mostly about war, the book seemed to have very few politics in it. I think the chapter that addresses politics the most was probably "On Rainy River." In this chapter, O'Brien made his political views known. He didn't like the war and he definitely did not want to fight in it. Again, this is an ageless concept. Many people do not support war and ironically, those who do not particularly embrace the war are the ones who end up sacrificing their lives for it. On the other hand, the sons and daughters of politicians who put these wars into motion manage to get out of it. This has been happening for years and years and doesn't seem likely to change anytime soon.




    Personal struggles were definitely the overriding theme throughout this novel. All the things that O'Brien writes about, all the things people struggled with, are still relevant today. The feelings of guilt felt by soldiers (Jimmy Cross and Norman Bowker) about the deaths of the friends and comrades (Ted Lavender and Kiowa) is not specific to the Vietnam war by any means. Feeling excluded, as Tim O'Brien felt after he was positioned away from his squad, is not exclusive to that war. Jimmy Cross' unrequited love for Margaret is a daily struggle felt by teenagers. Henry Dobbin's quest for decency is found in the values of millions of people around the world. I don't think that there's anything O'Brien writes about that isn't still relative today. Again, by focusing on capturing the feelings of the war (even if that requires telling fictional stories), O'Brien managed to create a novel that will forever be relevant to war and just people in general. The very act of writing his story is a struggle that many people can relate to. People write stories all the time that bring to life things that may not be living anymore; accurately depicting emotions is one of the greatest struggles of all. Tim O'Brien wrote a novel that is truly timeless and extremely easy to relate to, even if you've never been in a war.
    Paige Andresen's posting

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  53. I think that this book relates to today because war is still going on today and they soldiers that fought in the war are still experiencing these things that they experienced even long ago. Also, he shows that people, even the most sane can crack under the pressure for so long. People just get tired and vulnerable sometimes and everyone breaks down. Also, everyone in the war is looked at s a team and a family. All for one and one for all. That's how it is in the war but then right when O'Brien got hurt he was out of the family and the new guy was in. O'Brien felt like he was out of it because they weren't experiencing the same things anymore. IT just goes to show that nothing is forever and in the end you are all alone. That's how it is in highschool. You miss a party and then your best friend finds a new one. Its just the way life works.

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  54. This novel is connected to the current time period despite being set during the Vietnam War because war is timeless. Its themes are constant and the soldiers share the same experiences and thoughts whether they fought with a musket or an M16. The comradery of soldiers is the same today as it was during Vietnam, or as it was during WWII, or as it was during WWI. The role of story telling is also just as important today as it always has been during wartime. Story telling and its significance is a theme explored in TTTC. Though this book uses examples from the Vietnam war to state its point and explore war and its themes, books from all wars contain the same ideas and messages and truths. The personal struggles of soldiers are definitely heavier and often quicker-discovered and immediate than the average civilian's, but some solider's struggles are also just human struggles. Jimmy Cross's unrequited love wasn't just something a soldier faces; it's something humans deal with. Norman Bowker's loss of his friend Kiowa wasn't specific to the war; loss is a universal struggle that literally every human faces. Because of this, the novel is relate-able for everybody, not just soldiers with solider struggles from the Vietnam War.

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  55. The Things They Carried starts off really getting into what the soldiers physically carried. The descriptions begin to become very specific to each individual, describing how some men choose to carry things like comic books and tranquilizers. The novel is relevant today because civilians still have a very generalized view of who these people are. We picture all of the basics but we don't usually picture them playing checkers or throwing a grenade back and forth for fun. sometimes we build up the gore. War movies portray a never ending series of battles and tragedy, but this book tells an honest truth about war. War is something that many people hold strong opinions about. The narrator, for instance, was strongly opposed. Those of his hometown were strongly for the war, seeing it as patriotic. O'Brien comes to realize, however, that war is not a simple yes or no. It's more complicated, because real people are fighting and dying and living it. The Things They Carried is still relevant, because it asks readers to think about something that the average person tends to oversimplify. Our country has been at war for long time, its a normal thing to us. It was important to consider things that go unnoticed.

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