The Things They Carried

Ambush (short Story by Tim O'Brien)

tc 2.  Why do you think the narrator kills the man?

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O’Brien briefly relives the night in My Khe. He had been on watch after midnight. He saw the young man emerging from the mist, carrying a gun. He grabbed a grenade and threw it without really thinking. Right after he threw the grenade, he felt guilty. But it was too late. The grenade dealt a fatal blow. And, twenty years later, O’Brien is still living with the guilt. “Ambush” presents a classic conundrum for soldiers. They have done something that seemed reasonable in a certain context (killing a man during war) but is utterly incomprehensible out of context, for example in its retelling to an innocent child.