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Hypocrisy at its worst? 
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Post Hypocrisy at its worst?
I recently read this book for an AP Literature and Composition class. I find it difficult to express with words the manner in which the stories of this book and its abstract truth touched me. After we read the book we were assigned a paper in which we were to examine the text, formulate a critical response essay and identify an overall theme for the book. I am finding myself unable to comply to such demands because I am morally obligated to refuse to write such a paper! I feel like those young men out in Viet Nam, or at least how I imagined they felt. I have a loss of words, an inability to find depth or meaning in the story even though it tore my soul right open. It would be, in my opinion a travesty to produce a paper describing a theme or a point to it all. Since I am required to turn in a paper I have decided to write a paper about how I cannot write the paper as it was assigned. This unveils my own hypocrisy because I cannot possibly write a paper about a theme for the book, and in elaboration on the subject and my moral dilemma I must describe a relative theme of meaningless for the entire piece of work. I feel like Tim O'Brien may not want us to write papers about it. If anything I feel like analyzing the book detracts from it's unique and abstract truth, and will only serve as a detriment that will if anything blind us from an underlying reality.



Mon Oct 11, 2010 9:24 pm
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Post Re: Hypocrisy at its worst?
WTF. Write the paper. Then write something else that tells your personal opinions. You've been given an assignment. Writing a paper that isn't assigned will earn you a failing grade.



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Chris OConnor
Mon Oct 11, 2010 9:46 pm
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Post Re: Hypocrisy at its worst?
You have a tough row to hoe, for sure. The book is The Things They Carried, I suppose? You just don't feel right about applying the standard academic approach to the book because it hit you in a visceral way and you can't stand to distance yourself in order to analyze it. Can you do anything in writing that will convey your sense that the book is to be experienced differently, perhaps as a whole? I think you should accept sacrificing the grade rather than write something that seems to you fake. Your teacher might not like what you give him/her but then again might respect the principle.



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Tue Oct 12, 2010 6:51 am
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Post Re: Hypocrisy at its worst?
You have built an unnecessary hurdle to your own success.

Step back and consider the book in an intellectual, rather than emotional way.

Surely you posses the necesary discipline.


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Tue Oct 12, 2010 1:44 pm
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Post Re: Hypocrisy at its worst?
Part of growing up and obtaining an education is learning how to follow directions. I don't agree with the idea of twisting the assignment into something you desire. Follow the instructions or risk a bad grade. There is more to personal education than expressing your creativity and emotional depth. Following explicit instructions is something that will be required of you in assignments throughout your life, whether they be in school or your work. Always making some sort of statement is going to hold you back in many ways.

This book kicked ass and all of us that read it were equally in awe of the author's ability to move us emotionally. That's why it was a bestseller. But your teacher gave you an assignment and it is in your best interested to...

1. Follow the instructions or
2. Ask permission to deviate


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Sun Oct 17, 2010 3:32 pm
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Post Re: Hypocrisy at its worst?
boomerangchimp wrote:
I recently read this book for an AP Literature and Composition class. I find it difficult to express with words the manner in which the stories of this book and its abstract truth touched me.


O’Brien described many emotional and disturbing events in this novel in an abstract way, with beautiful prose. I can understand the difficulty you may be encountering with this project.

There is a chapter in this book where O’Brien describes a soldier who steps on a land mine. This is a horrific event to witness, however, O’Brien’s description of it is poetic, intense and extremely emotional. These passages are beautifully written and demand an emotional response. O’Brien describes this soldier as being transported and lifted into the trees, and remarks how beautiful and tranquil this soldier must feel in this position. However, the reader realizes that this soldier has been destroyed, and O’Brien has found a way to insulate himself against the horrific reality of what has actually happened.

Many teachers ask of their students to critique a novel and to point out different techniques a fiction writer uses to convey their message. Many professors/teachers ask students to curtail their own personal feelings and to refrain from inserting their emotions into their reports. However, in regard to “The Things They Carried”, Tim O’Brien has given you the avenue to express your feelings because of the abstract way that he writes.

“The Things They Carried” is a novel comprised of several short stories. O’Brien re visits the story of the soldier and the land mine later in the novel from a different point of view. This alternate story is again emotional, but less poetic, it is reality based, told by another who witnessed the event and is tortured by the memory and intense guilt.

I do believe that it is possible to complete this project as to the teacher's instructions and accompany these instructions with your own personal feelings. My suggestion to you would be to focus on the emotional writing of O’Brian and his intent. If you find that O’Brian wrote it to evoke emotion while informing the reader of the reality of the war as he witnessed it, you then have a way to insert your personal feelings into your report. However, I cannot support your reasoning to refuse to participate in this project. “The Things They Carried” is one of the most eloquent books on the Vietnam War. To refuse to report on this book, on this war, is to hide from the fact that it happened. This is not the way to make a statement as to how you feel.

Insert your feelings, reveal to the instructor how this book has affected you. After all, it is O’Brian’s words that have created emotion in you, and your feelings are relevant to this project, because emotion is relevant to the book.



Sun Oct 17, 2010 5:54 pm
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