Calloway on "The Things They Carried" Analytical Essay by Master Researcher

Calloway on "The Things They Carried"
A review of the article by Catherine Calloway, "'How to tell a true war story': Metafiction in 'The Things They Carried.'"
# 35858 | 650 words | 1 source | MLA | 2002 | US
Published on Oct 22, 2003 in English (Analysis) , Literature (General)

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This is an analysis of Catherine Calloway's article, 'How to tell a true war story': Metafiction in 'The Things They Carried.' The paper explains how Calloway suggests that the theme of the novel becomes more than a simple war story due to the ambivalent writing technique O'Brien employs. The paper addresses O'Brien's style, technique and mode of presentation and how they all reinforce the theme of war as an issue that cannot be understood but only told over and over again. The paper includes this article as an appendix to the paper.


From the Paper:

"Calloway's critique is made all the more effective through her use and citation of other writings that have been written on O' Brien's novel. Newspaper articles, books, and journals have all been used to empathetically create a well-organized criticism of the story. She establishes the writers' effective use of words and presents how he starts the story and then uses the beginning as the base of the novels progression. Consider how she writes of O' Briens criteria of 'carrying things'. O' Brien wrote that the soldiers carried objects that the narrator describes. The list of these objects is initially mundane, the ordinary pocket of the young men who seem to carry junk all around, treasuring it as if it were gold. Then Calloway reaches the point where she feels the writer has established his theme. She writes, "In addition, the reader soon learns, the soldiers also carry stories: stories that connect "the past to the future" (40). These words, a blend of O'Briens, then suggests that the motif of the objects being carried is not as simple as it seems. The stories then become life experiences, that are what make the soldiers and their personalities come alive. Had the author of the book continued with the use of only the objects in the pocket the story would have become the usual objective war plot, yet, when he makes the stories being told the focal point, it is realized that there is no such thing as objectivity in war. The emotions of the soldiers, the suffering and the evasive manner in which the author presents them causes the reader to understand that war is not an absolute."

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