The Things They Carried

Turning Over a New Leaf: Facing the Pressures of Society

It takes a lot of courage to release the familiar and seemingly secure, to embrace the new. But there is no real security in what is no longer meaningful. There is more security in the adventurous and exciting, for in movement there is life, and in change there is power.

--Alan Cohen

Though often perceived as terrifying and tragic, war also has the unforeseen potential to transform the delicate face of human nature. The characters Mary Anne, Tim, and Lt. Cross of Tim O’Brien’s The Things They Carried all demonstrate how the Vietnam War allowed them to better handle the pressures of society, ultimately gaining a deeper sense of control over their lives. When suddenly drafted, O’Brien is doubtful he can be the fearless, heroic soldier that his community expects him to be, but he soon learns to cope at war through the grace of storytelling. Similarly, Lt. Jimmy Cross is also abruptly thrown into the war, and suffers major qualms about his ability to successfully lead a platoon of army men. Then there is the quiet and docile Mary Anne, consistently relying upon her lover for identity when all it would finally take is the exploration of a foreign land to ultimately rediscover her true inner self.

Unsure if he can indeed rise up to...

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