The Things They Carried Analysis
In the chapter “The Ghost Soldiers”, the author uses the repetition of O’Brien’s near death experience and his subsequent attempt to scare Bobby Jorgenson to bring O’Brien to the revelation that he was exhibiting cowardice in using his prank to mask his own pain and fear. This solidifies the book’s purpose as a way for the author, O’Brien, to hide from real truth and further exhibits the cowardice that is intrinsic in him as well as in humanity.
The chapter I am analyzing (“The Ghost Soldiers”) is key to book in its entirety because it centers on O’Brien’s cowardice, which is the whole foundation and purpose of the book. The chapter revolves around the soldier O’Brien pulling a prank on the medic Bobby Jorgenson because he failed to treat O’Brien correctly for shock and a bullet wound when O’Brien was shot in the field. O’Brien’s experience in the field made him realize how afraid he was to die. And although he explored the concept of death through other soldiers such as Kurt Lemon and Kiowa, he had never touched on it in the context of his own death before, perhaps because he was too much of a coward to think about it. Being shot though, and being uncertain if he would be saved or not, forced O’Brien to think about his own death; how it would feel, how it would smell, what his last thoughts would be. “…the dizzy feeling, the smell of yourself, the way your eyes focus on a tiny white pebble or a blade of grass and how you start thinking, Oh man, that’s the last thing I’ll ever see…” (“T3C, O’Brien” 191) In his mind, Jorgenson exposed him to this new perspective on death, because it was his delay, ironically caused by his own fear, which gave O’Brien time think about his death and his fear of it. To him it feels like a regression to still be afraid of death, just as he was when Linda told him she had cancer, and when he was first drafted.
O’Brien discovers that he was not simply afraid of the physical...