Things They Carried

June 7, 2010
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“You feel terrible, I know that” (O’Brien 127). Kiowa’s attempts to make him feel better after Tim took the life of a Vietnamese soldier. This doesn’t really help him feel better. In the book, The Things They Carried, Tim’s experiences in the war give him a lot of guilt. Tim was very vulnerable to guilt throughout the book. Tim had an arsenal of problems, but guilt was a definitive one. “The Man I Killed” describes the story of how he killed a young Vietnamese soldier. Tim tells the story as more of protagonist rather then a narrator like he did in the rest of the book. The narrator part of Tim stays in the background. Tim attempts to take the place of the dead Vietnamese soldiers’ shoes. By taking on the role of a dead man, all this does is feed to Tim’s guilt. Tim describes the soldier with a lot of detail.” He was not a fighter. His health was poor. His body was small and frail.”(O’Brien 125). This was the only way Tim could figure out this person that he took the life from. Azar says,” Oh, man you f***in trashed the f***er.”(O’Brien 125). All this does is just feed to Tim’s guilt. He knew this act would be imperative, but would eventually regret later. Kill the man was apart of Tim’s Civility.

Kiowa was a very influential character in the book. Kiowa was an influential character because he was able to keep everyone from getting very aggressive and violent. When he died, it changed everyone. Kiowa’s death affected everyone in their own way. Tim felt guilty that he couldn’t save Kiowa. Tim attempts to relieve the guilt of losing Kiowa by telling a story. Tim tells the story by thinking of how Norman would have told the story about Kiowa’s death. In the chapter “Field Trip”, Tim goes back to Vietnam with his daughter. Tim also attempts to relieve some of his guilt of losing Kiowa by going back Vietnam. Tim says, “I returned with my daughter to Vietnam, where we visited the site of Kiowa’s death, and where I look for signs of forgiveness or personal grace or whatever else the land might offer.”(O’Brien 185). Tim goes back to Vietnam to bury Kiowa’s Moccasins. In a way he tries to relieve his guilt by going down under the mud to feel what Kiowa felt, but also in a sense to bury Kiowa. Tim comes up out the mud with a sense of relief and says, “In a way, maybe, I’d gone under with Kiowa, and now after two decades I’d finally worked my way out (O’Brien 187).

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