Tuesday, February 1, 2011

The Things They Carried - Final Set of Prompts

I am going to make this blog post a little trickier for you (and a little more fun, hopefully). As before, you should choose one of these prompts and respond to it. However, your response will be a little different this time in that regardless of which prompt you choose, you should include, as part of your response, something from the O’Brien interview I posted on D2L. You might quote a line, or lines, from the interview, or you might paraphrase some part of it, or you might use it in some other way. Please remember, though, that your response should primarily be an expression of original thought.

1. In “In the Field,” there is a young boy that is not named. Why not give this character a name? Any ideas? Does the chapter give you any clues?

2. On 178-79, O’Brien writes, “Twenty years. A lot like yesterday, a lot like never. In a way, maybe, I’d gone under with Kiowa, and now after two decades I’d finally worked my way out. [. . .] I felt something go shut in my heart while something else swung open.” Interpret these lines.

3. What happens to O’Brien as he is enacting his revenge on Bobby Jorgenson? What do we learn about him in those chapters? How would you describe his emotional state?

5. O’Brien writes about the difference between “happening-truth” and “story-truth.” He writes that he could tell his daughter that he did, or did not, kill anyone, and that either one would be true. Is this stretching his definition of "truth" too far?
6. Which affected you more, Kiowa going under, or Rat Kiley beginning to lose his mind? Why? What does this teach you about yourself as a reader?

7. The story of Timmy and Linda is probably symbolic of many things. What does it symbolize to you? What is its significance? And why does O’Brien include it, even conclude with it, when it seems to be outside Vietnam, outside the framework of the book?

8. The last chapter, “The Lives of the Dead,” begins with the sentence, “But this, too, is true: stories can save us.” Why the word “too”? What other “truth” is he referring back to? And, perhaps more importantly, what do you think O’Brien means? After all you have read, respond to the idea that a story can save us.

Thank you!

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