Re: Hypocrisy at its worst?
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.