The Things They Carried By Tim O’Brien
The Things They Carried While apparently based on some of O'Brien's own experiences, the title page refers to the book as a work of fiction; indeed the majority of stories in the book possess some quality of meta-fiction.
Metafiction is a type of fiction which self-consciously addresses the devices of fiction. It is the term given to fictional writing which self-consciously and systematically draws attention to its status as an artifact in order to pose questions about the relationship between fiction and reality. It usually involves irony and is self-reflective. Metafiction does not let the readers forget they are reading a work of fiction.
Some common metafictive devices include: >A novel about a person writing a novel. >A novel about a person reading a novel. (Neverending Story) >A novel in which the author is a character. >A story that anticipates the reader's reaction to the story. >Characters who do things because those actions are what they would expect from characters in a story. >Characters who express awareness that they are in a work of fiction. >A work of fiction within a fiction.
. A Brief Overview of The Vietnam War 1964-1975
BRIEF History of Vietnam • Vietnam was a French colony. • In 1954, the Vietminh (Vietnamese Nationalist and Communist-led) army defeated French forces at Dien Bien Phu. • The French decided to leave Vietnam.
Communism • Without the French presence in Vietnam, communism began to rule. • Domino Theory: If the U.S. allowed one country to fall to communism, then many more would follow suit. • Therefore, the U.S. entered Vietnam with the goal of impeding the growth of communism.
Important Terms… • NVA: North Vietnamese Army (communist) • Vietcong: guerilla fighters in South Vietnam who supported the NVA • SVA: South Vietnamese Army (supported by the U.S.)
U.S. Involvement • U.S. got involved when President Eisenhower and later President Kennedy began sending military advisers to Vietnam. • The advisers supported the South Vietnamese army as they began to fight the North Vietnamese army.
Who was the Average American Soldier? • 19 years old • High school education • Politics more involved • Many enlisted because nothing else to do or for glory • Draft lasted 4 years • Basic training for 16 months • More minorities in heavy combat
Gulf of Tonkin • In 1964, the NVA attacked two U.S. navy ships in the Gulf of Tonkin, leading to the eventual declaration of war by the U.S. • Gulf of Tonkin Resolution gave President Johnson the power to take whatever action necessary to defend southeast Asia.
Key Events Operation Rolling Thunder (1965) • Long-lasting bombing offensive • Goal was to force North Vietnam to stop supporting Vietcong guerillas in the South. • The bombings led to an increase in NVA and Vietcong attacks.
A Turning Point… • Khe Sanh (1968) • In January, 40,000 NVA surrounded 5,600 U.S. marines at the base at Khe Sanh. • For two months, the U.S. increased their bombings and their search and destroy sweeps throughout South Vietnam. • In Operation Niagra, the U.S. dropped 5 Hiroshima-size bombs near Khe Sanh. • In April, the U.S. ended the siege when they re-took Route 9.
The End… • Five years after Khe Sanh, in January 1973, peace talks between North Vietnam and the U.S. began. Within the month, a cease fire was signed. • In 1975, North Vietnam violated the Paris peace agreement, and eventually seized the South. • In April 1975, the last U.S. troops left Vietnam.
Final Counts… • 3 million U.S. military came home during the 11-year war. • 58,132 U.S. military were killed. • In 1995, the Vietnamese government reported that its military forces, including the NLF, suffered 1.1 million dead and 600,000 wounded during Hanoi's conflict with the United States. Civilian deaths were put at two million in the North and South, and economic reparations were expected.
O’Brien tells us that the soldiers are called “legs or grunts” rather than men. Military speech is peppered with euphemisms – that is, terms and phrases that distance us from the fact that real, individual people with families and friends are being killed. Examples: “Friendly Fire” – Fire from those on one’s side (often resulting in death) “Collateral damage” – civilian deaths from military ammunitions that missed their intended target or were targeted at civilians by mistake “Soft Targets” – civilian areas; cities “Transport tubes” – body bags What do you think of this practice? Is it a helpful or harmful manipulation?
VOCABULARY SOP – Standard Operating Procedure CO- Commanding Officer PFC- Private First Class RTO- Radio Transmissions Officer LP- Language/Listening Patrol CS- Tear Gas MRE- Meal ready to eat VC - Viet Cong EM- enlisted man BCD- bad conduct discharge
Journal: Empty your pockets/bookbag/purse. Write about what you “carry” both physically and figuratively.