The Things They Carried

chapter 5

What was the effect of the fight on Jensen 

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Together, “Friends” and “Enemies” serve to display the absurdity of war. Roles shift fluidly at war. Your worst enemy may become your fastest friend. Your fastest friend may become your executioner – which is Lee Strunk’s fear. Social codes and norms break down completely. Even a retreat to “eye for an eye” Biblical law (Jensen breaking his own nose) doesn’t seem to make sense. There are no social norms or codes governing the troops. O’Brien points out that war is essentially a state without laws. But stories are simple, spare, opaque enough to seem like moral parables, communicating universal truths regarding all wartime friendships -- so that the critique of war seems to range farther than just Vietnam and deeper than this particular moment in history.