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Book Discussion Questions: The Things They Carried by Tim O’Brien

Suggested Essay Topics

❶What were the hardest parts of The Things they Carried for you to get through?

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How did your body react? What about your heart? What were some examples of black humor in The Things They Carried? Why do you think the soldiers had such dark humor? What did it accomplish? What are words you would use to describe this book? Think about the tone and about the pacing. What is the purpose of each story?

How does this writing technique affect the narrative? Do you think it is a true statement? Can you think of a story that saved you at one time or another? Recall a passage or an image that has stuck with you from this book. Retell it in as much detail as possible for us.

Why did this moment stick with you? Many book clubs have read a plethora of fiction and nonfiction books on WWII. How might reading about WWII be easier for participants than reading about Vietnam or more current conflicts? There are not nearly as many popular novels and nonfiction tales set against Vietnam.

What do you think that is? Yet, there are many, many Vietnam movies out there. Why do you think movies about the Vietnam War may be more popular than novels or nonfiction bout it? Do you think voluntarily enlisting in a war versus being drafted into a war will change the type and tone of stories told about that war? How does that possibility ring true for Vietnam War stories that have been told?

Many high school students are assigned to read The Things They Carried. Why do you think this book ends up on required reading lists? Do you think it is an appropriate read for that age group? What were the hardest parts of The Things they Carried for you to get through? The Things They Carried is only pages. She expresses a magic love that resists the brutal reality of war.

Ultimately, this unfulfilling dream of Martha, the hopes for a future life with her lead to the fact that the lieutenant is constantly distracted by thoughts about the object of his desire, even at the most critical moment. With this story, the author makes a statement that in the war the soldiers should focus on their actions, on what is happening at the current moment and not be distracted by the ghostly memories of the past, as this can cost a human life.

Therefore, the character of Martha symbolizes a confrontation between love and danger, fantasy and the cruel reality of life. This story describes the decision of soldier Mark Fossie to bring his girl to the Vietnam War.

The author describes Mary Anne as a beautiful, curious girl in nice clothes. But with a stay in Vietnam, she transforms into a real warrior: This story is a symbol of the transformation of all soldiers in the war, as they come there innocent and inexperienced guys and become entirely different, strong and tempered men. The author draws a parallel between how Mary Anne loses her femininity on her arrival in Vietnam, and soldiers lose their innocence in the war.

Thus, Mary Anne Bell symbolizes the loss of innocence of all soldiers who go through the horrors of war. Being at war, he thinks of his classmate Linda, with whom he once went to the cinema. He was in love with her but later discovered that she had a severe, incurable illness.

The author thinks of this event as the first experience of death in his life and analyzes it in the context that memory is capable of giving eternal life to people who once were dear to the heart. The author asserts the idea that memory makes a person immortal since it allows to perpetuate his traits into various types of art. Therefore, Linda symbolizes death, eternal life and the function of memory in art.

Although the main characters of the stories are soldiers of the war, female characters also play a significant role in this book. Martha symbolizes the opposition of love and danger, fantasy and reality, Mary Anne Bell-loss of the innocence of soldiers after the war, and Linda-death and eternal life.

Female characters express important life values and fill the book with different emotions. Informa UK Limited, doi: Literature In Context, vol 36, no.

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Tim O’Brien’s The Things They Carried Essay: The Role of Women

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The Things They Carried Questions and Answers. The Question and Answer section for The Things They Carried is a great resource to ask questions, find answers, and discuss the novel.

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What is the role of women in The Things They Carried? Although women play a small role in The Things They Carried, it is a significant one. Female characters such as Martha, Mary Anne Bell, and Henry Dobbins’s unnamed girlfriend all affect the men of the Alpha Company—although in two of the cases, the women aren’t even with the men they’re affecting.

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In The Things They Carried, protagonist "Tim O'Brien," a writer and Vietnam War veteran, works through his memories of his war service to find meaning in them. Interrelated short stories present themes such as the allure of war, the loss of innocence, and the relationship between fact and fiction. Sep 05,  · 3. What do the terms “story-truth” and “happening-truth” mean in the context of the book? How do they differ? 4. Although The Things They Carried contains a story called “The Man I Killed,” it is unclear whether O’Brien actually killed anyone in Vietnam. What purpose does this ambiguity serve?

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This lesson explains how to use essay questions in the classroom, and provides essay topic ideas related to the study of the novel The Things They Carried. Using Essay Questions in the Classroom As teachers, we have an arsenal of methods used to determine student understanding. The Things They Carried. Tim O'Brien's book is a collection of interconnected short stories that take place during the Vietnam War. These stories follow the soldiers of Alpha Company as they fight, talk, struggle, triumph, and die on the ground in Vietnam. O'Brien is a veteran of that war, and his book blurs the line between truth and fiction.