Wednesday, October 15, 2014

Exploration 5 Shannon Applin

Response to The Things They Carried

1. So far, On the Rainy River has been the most meaningful story to me. This story caught my attention right away when O'Brien began with "This is one story I've never told before." I felt as if he was telling the reader a secret, which in a way, he was. I really liked how this story took place before O'Brien went to war in Vietnam. However, he was still at war, but this time with himself. He faced a tremendous conflict. He believed he shouldn't have to fight in a war that he didn't believe in, that he hated. So he would go to Canada and escape from the draft. However, when O'Brien arrived at the shore just 20 yards away from Canada and the opportunity was presented to him, he couldn't decide, he was frozen. He described this moment as "A moral freeze: I couldn't decide, I couldn't act, I couldn't comport myself with even a pretense of modest human dignity." This chapter really put an emphasis on human nature and the reality of the situation. This story is the one that brought the book to life for me.

2. This is probably cliche, but I connect with the main character, Tim O'Brien the best. Since he is a major character in the book the reader is able to connect with him on a personal level better than the other characters simply because we know more about him. However, there are certain traits that I believe O'Brien and I share. I think I would have acted a lot like he did upon recieving the draft notice. He doesn't believe in the war and thought that he had much more to live for than being a soldier in Vietnam. Like O'Brien, I would probably be selfish in thinking that I shouldn't have to fight in a war that I didn't believe in. I might even try to run off to Canada haha.

3. One thing that still stands out to me is from the first chapter of the book where O'Brien is describing the things they carried. I want to point out how the soldiers carried many tedious physical items, but also many intangible things. Things like diseases, the atmosphere, their lives, even the emotional baggage of men who might die. O'Brien wanted it to be clear that the non-physical things they carried were the heaviset.

4. I really loved the chapter On the Rainy River so maybe that's why this quote really stood out to me, " I could've done it, I could've jumped and started swimming for my life. Inside me, in my chest, I felt a terrible squeezing pressure. Even now, as I write this, I can still feel that tightness. And I want you to feel it - the wind coming off the river, the waves, the silence, the wooded frontier. You're at the bow of a boat on the Rainy River. You're twenty-one years old, you're scared, and there's a hard squeezing pressure in your chest." I just love everything about this passage. O'Brien achieved his goal, he made me feel exactly what he wanted me to. Maybe that's why I like this part so much, not only did I read it, but I really felt it. 


  1. I feel the same way when it comes to war as well and since having a grandfather who actually served in Vietnam he tells me the same kind of stories were he thought the war was pointless. The first chapter were he was talking about the all the things they carried stood out to me. What really caught my attention was the way he put the weights with all the physical items that they carried gave me a sense of how they physically carried on top of the mental things they carried. That's a really good quote. I used the one quote from the first chapter he talks about how they carried each other.

  2. I really like how O'Brien goes into great detail about the physical and emotional things the soldiers carried. It allows the reader to see the struggles they really had and the interesting coping mechanisms. That was one of my favorite parts too, and even though it was hard to follow at times, jumping from character to character, you start to understand each character and feel for them.


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