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The Things They Carried

by Tim O’Brien

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Can you find a quote in "The Things They Carried" comparing home to war?

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One of the themes in this collection of short stories is the interaction between those who fought in war and then returend home to try and do their best to integrate into life once more. The irony is that often these soldiers, after having risked their lives for home and country, found it very difficult to integrate once again into society. Note, for example, the following quotation, where this theme is scrutinised:

The town could not talk, and would not listen. "How'd you like to hear about the war?" he might have asked, but the place could only blink and shrug. It had no memory, therefore no guilt. The taxes got paid and the votes got counted and the agencies of government did their work briskly and politely. It was a brisk, polite town. It did not know shit about shit, and did not care to know.

Here, the war is compared to home, and it can almost be seen that the war is preferable to the kind of abject denial and ignorance that characterises the town, which is personified as only being able to "blink and shrug." In other sections of this text, war is shown to be very different, as almost making the soldiers feel more alive, and this is compared very strongly with presentations of home such as this one, where what characterises life more than anything else is lack of awareness and lack of understanding about the war and about what the soldiers faced and sacrificed.

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