The Vietnam War in Short Fiction Criticism: Tim O'Brien: The Things They Carried (1990) - Essay

Steven Kaplan (essay date 1995)

(Short Story Criticism)

SOURCE: Kaplan, Steven. “The Things They Carried.” In Understanding Tim O'Brien, pp. 169-92. Columbia: University of South Carolina Press, 1995.

[In the following essay, Kaplan contends that in The Things They Carried, Tim O'Brien “emphasizes the magical powers of storytelling,” incorporating both factual writing and memoir to create fiction that is “truer than fact.”]

Before America became militarily involved in defending the sovereignty of South Vietnam, it had to, as one historian recently put it, “invent” the country and the political issues at stake there.1 The Vietnam War was in many ways a wild and terrible work of...

(The entire section is 5902 words.)

Alex Vernon (essay date December 2003)

(Short Story Criticism)

SOURCE: Vernon, Alex. “Salvation, Storytelling, and Pilgrimage in Tim O'Brien's The Things They Carried.Mosaic 36, no. 4 (December 2003): 171-88.

[In the following essay, Vernon considers Tim O'Brien's The Things They Carried in relation to John Bunyan's The Pilgrim's Progress, viewing the former “as a mechanism for questioning the possibility of spiritual gain through waging modern war.”]

Tim O'Brien's The Things They Carried participates in a tradition of literary revision unique to twentieth-century American war literature, joining e. e. cummings's World War I novel The Enormous Room and Kurt Vonnegut Jr.'s World War II...

(The entire section is 8011 words.)