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The Things They Carried

When I read the first chapter of the novel, I understood it as fiction since the point of view and the narrative style all combine into a story like piece of work. However, as I kept flipping through the pages I began to think of the novel as a mix between nonfiction and fiction, and I was (more than) a little bit confused… The first person point of view in places and the memoir like feel pointed to autobiography, while the engaging plots, colorful characters, and the general tone of the novel made it seem like stories conjured by the author. Now after watching several interviews with Tim O’Brien, I can safely say we should open a new shelf in the library called “O’Brien”, where autobiographies are disguised as fictions.

I agree on O’Brien’s point that through stories, readers become more engaged in the events and have a more personal feeling toward what is happening than merely reading formal news and dry history textbooks. Through stories, the war gains depth. As O’Brien said, the novel is not just about the war, it is about love, peace, and man’s inner self, and more. Such novels makes readers think and analyze and come to their own conclusions, a characteristic that media news cannot match.

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My War – Elizabeth A. Allen

Nervous yet faithful, strong yet inexperienced, Elizabeth A. Allen followed the path of her family members and joined the Vietnam War. Both a woman and African American, Allen had a much lower status compared to many other nurses working along side of her. When Allen saw the rows of young men sitting under the scorching sun, waiting to fill the place of a dead man and only to die themselves, she began to question the purpose of the war. Bodies poured into the hospital in waves and the caretakers struggled to take care of them with limited supplies and personnels. After all that struggle and sacrifice, Allen, along with many other American veterans, only received hostility from their own nation in return. She fought both a war against the communist forces as well as her own identity.

Allen had escaped death numerous times and was forced to watched the cruel acts of death destroying others in a war that, from the description of her recounts and The Things They Carried, seemed utterly pointless. Weighted down by the things they carried, the soldiers in the war “humped” the mountains and fields and forests and rice paddies mechanically. Their minds, along with Allen’s mind, were unconsciously numbed by the shelling and shooting and screaming in an attempt to salvage their sanity from the grip of war. Of course they were tough people, but what was their toughness for?

http://www.historynet.com/my-war-elizabeth-a-allen.htm

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