(“Enemies”, “Friends”, and “How to Tell a True War Story”; The Things They Carried)

Then he panicked. He tried to get up and run, but there was nothing left to run on. He fell hard. The stump of his right leg was twitching. There were slivers of bone, and the blood came in quick spurts like water from a pump. He seemed bewildered. He reached down as if to massage his missing leg, then he passed out, and Rat put on a tourniquet and administered morpheme and ran plasma into him (62-63). 

Earlier, in the story “On the Rainy River,” we noticed, during a more intense scene, use of parallelism with long sentences with small simple sentences in between them. During this intense scene where Strunk looses most of his leg, the same form of parallelism is present. 

Since form=function, the function of this paragraph structure must be to draw the reader in and give a sense of urgency. The long sentences give the information, or tell the story, and the short ones seem to shock the reader a bit, with the next long sentences drawing them in again. It seems to function similarly as constantly switching angles does in film. 

Also, in “enemies” and “friends,” we begin to see a little bit of contradiction. As the titles suggest, one story illustrates two characters as enemies, and the next one as close friends. I don’t think this is a stylistic choice as much as it is a purposeful thing that lends to the story. One of O’Brien’s main points in writing The Things They Carried is to show the harsh relates of war and the negative effects it had on people. One of these effects may be that they don’t know who their enemies are, and don’t know who their friends are. 

-Paulie

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