The Elusiveness of War and the Tenuousness of Morality in Tim O’Brien’s “The Things They Carried,”How to Tell a True War Story,” and “Style” In the novel The Things They Carried, Tim O’Brien demonstrates how exposure to the atrocities of nations at war leads to the soldiers having skewed perspectives on what is right and wrong, predominantly at times when the purpose of the war itself appears elusive. The ambiguity that consumes the stories of “The Things They Carried” and “How to Tell a True War Story” is displayed with irony, for the ‘moral’ of such war stories is that there is no moral at all. O’Brien portrays the character Mitchell Sanders as an observer who seeks the morals to be found through the war fatalities; however, he depicts these morals in a manner that actually stresses the impiety of the situations above all else. The characters in this novel are at the forefront of the Vietnam War, thus blinded by carnage that soon begins to obscure any prior notions held about what is moralistic and what is not. The death of Ted Lavender in “The Things They Carried” leads to Lieutenant Jimmy Cross’ moral blunder which is brought about by his guilt over the horror of the incident: Lieutenant Cross felt the pain.
He blamed himself [… ] He pictured Martha’s smooth young face [… ] and now Ted Lavender was dead because he loved her so much and could not stop thinking about her. When the dust off arrived, they carried Lavender aboard.
... about it, there are differences between the themes and morals of a story. Themes and morals are two different important elements of literature. ... of the story is “slow and steady wins the race” and the moral can be “to never give up” (OR OTHER THINGS). This ... the lesson you take away from reading the story. The moral can be similar or the same as a theme, but ...
Afterward they burned Than Khe. (6-7) Cross deals with his ignorance as a leader by burning down an entire village, which is noticeably a result of the distorted boundary between moral and immoral actions caused by this war. Lavender’s death also reaches a point of irony when Sanders claims that the moral to the situation is in fact the immorality of it, saying “The moral’s pretty obvious. Stay away from drugs.
No joke, they ” ll ruin your day every time” (20).
Sanders is focusing on Lavender’s corrupt ways in order to convey the lesson of his death, and he is ironically doing so as he partakes in those very debauched ways himself. Similarly to Cross’ approach to dealing with the death of Lavender, Rat Kiley experiences much difficulty and trauma from the death of his friend Curt Lemon and feels partially responsible. Following Lemon’s death, Kiley went into the mountains and “came across a baby VC water buffalo […
]He stepped back and shot it through the right front knee[… ]Curt Lemon was dead. Rat Kiley had lost his best friend in the world” (78-79).
The frustrations of being a soldier in Vietnam and fighting at times for a cause that has no apparent solution causes the men to have questionable judgment. When it comes to upholding the standards they used to abide by when living in a place free of so much animosity and mortality, the soldiers must first overcome the oppressive weight of the war that confuses their moral views. Moral ambiguity is clear in the short story of “Style” as Henry Dobbins strongly defends a young girl, whom he inflicts immense damage upon, against Azar’s ridicule.
As the young girl dances through the streets shortly after an ambush upon her hometown, Azar imitates her and says “Probably some weird ritual” (136); however, Dobbins threatens him and makes him stop his nonsense. Dobbins’ actions seem quite honorable, yet the irony of the situation lies wherein he was one of the main players in the ambush on the young girl’s home, causing her to lose her house and her entire family. The idea of the tenuousness of morality is common in this novel, for the Vietnam war itself is so overbearing and mystifying to these characters that it clouds their minds and their decisions seem to lack real clarity.
... with his sons action, and so the tragic death of Young Hamlet was all for naught.. ... ghost tells Hamlet that Claudius was responsible for his death. Since Hamlet already has Hatred in his heart ... life. Hamlet's faith is another cause of his death, his faith in the ghost, his faith in ... Claudius and Laertes) there were steps leading up his death which could have easily been avoided. Probably Hamlet' ...