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emilyknight7 eNotes educator| Certified Educator

"Night Life" is one of the final chapters in The Things They Carried. In it, O'Brien tells the story of how Rat Kiley wounded himself. The company was forced to move only at night ("night life") due to a rumor about increased Vietnamese soldiers in the area. It made everyone stressed and tense, but especially Rat. He started getting manic about the bugs, insisting they were after him and frantically scratching his bites. He stops sleeping during the day and starts seeing people as dead or wounded when he talks to them, imagining his own body covered in bugs. When he finally loses it and shoots himself in the foot to get out of the war, Cross lies for him so he won't get in trouble. 

This story is important because it is another example of O'Brien's goal to show what the war is really like for the soldiers in it. He wants to show that behaviors that may seem cowardly or distasteful are completely understandable in the lawless world of war. This story is an example of that theme.

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The Things They Carried

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