The Things They Carried

How does O'Brien use technique to create meaning in his text?

How does he reaveal truth or essence?

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The book is stylistically unique not only because of its sui generis status regarding fiction/non-fiction and novel/short stories, but also because of its voice. There is only one “I,” the first-person narration of the fictional Tim O’Brien. But an omniscient narration gets into the minds of many of the other characters as well, and we only read metaphors they would think, only have access to words they would know.

One point of view The Things They Carried pointedly denies the reader is the Vietnamese perspective. None of the Vietnamese characters have names; O’Brien is forced to invent a backstory for the man he killed, because he knows nothing about him. With this narrative technique, O’Brien suggests the unknowability of the other, in this case a racial other, a strategy which is rooted in French existential literature such as Camus’ [The Stranger]. In one story, a visiting girlfriend goes on what is essentially a sightseeing trip down to a village controlled by the enemy. O’Brien suggests that any narrative from the Vietnamese viewpoint would be as futile and possibly dangerous as her little outing. You can check more out at the link below: