The Things They Carried by Tim O’Brien

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Explain O'Brien's allusion to the Thomas Hardy poem "The Man He Killed."

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O'Brien creates intertextuality with Hardy's poem to illustrate the timeless nature of war's human consequences—that is, what is done cannot be undone. O'Brien's allusion in the story "The Man I Killed" alters the pronoun of the poem's title: where the poem refers to "he," O'Brien refers to "I."

The subtle shift is important, as allusions are not verbatim representations of the referenced work. The pronoun change places personal, emotional, and psychological ownership on O'Brien, who kills a man. Tim does not attach the kill to his soldier persona, because he never lost his former self (see Mary Anne Belle for a contrast). Kiowa can sense that Tim internalizes the death:

"I'm serious. Nothing anybody could do. Come on, stop staring." ...

Kiowa glanced at the body. "All right, let me ask a question," he said. "You want to change places with him? Turn it all upside down—you want that? I mean, be honest." ...

"Think it over," Kiowa said.

Then later he said, "Tim it's a war . The guy wasn't...

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