The things they carry by Tim O’Brien

1 (a).Use of Research to tell a story

                 According to O’Brien (1990) many years after the war, Jimmy Cross had visited him in Massachusetts. They talked about everything they had seen, done and things they carried through their lives. This ended when they found themselves on a kitchen table with 100 old photographs of Rat Kiley, Kiowa and Mitchell Sandes. (pg 27)

After a while Norman Bowker had written him a disjointed letter in which, it described the problem of finding meaningful use of his life after the war and suggested to him. That he write a story about a guy who feels like he got zapped over in that shit hole and he was given the permission to use the contents to write a book. (pg155)

After collecting this data the author used his own experience with war to tell stories, as well as to point out the most significant moments in his life. This included the first time he experienced a gunshot wound followed by the hatred he expressed towards the doctor who didn’t managed to treat him for shock which resulted in losing consciousness. These moments were grouped according to the time in which they occurred.

(b).         Awareness of audience

The author is aware of his audience when he transits from a previous chapter to a new one by suggesting I am about to talk about someone else’s experience so as to not confuse/ lose them.

 I had a buddy in Vietnam. His name was Bob Kiley, but everyone called him Rat. A friend of his gets killed ,so about a week later Rat sits down and writes a letter to the guys sister Rat tells her he was a real soldiers soldier and a very personal and touching letter by pouring his heart out to her and assures her that once the war is over he would look for her. But still after two months no reply. (Pg67-68)

Not only is he writing a book but reality of how the bond between soldiers is greater than the actual family who seem not to care to what happened to their loved one. Which raises the question, did the family agree to their son/brother to go to war? Or he just left home without warning.                                                                          Also he did not write his own experience but the experience of other s. Therefore, collaborating factual and coherence to war lives.

A true war story is never moral. It doesn’t instruct nor encourage virtue, nor suggest models for proper human behavior, nor restrain man from doing the things men have always done. (pg68)

He cautions his audience that experience is the best teacher and we react the way we do because we do not know any better. We shouldn’t have high expectations but be diligent enough to understand the strength to fight for what we believe in and survive another day.

(c).         Rhetorical style


In the spring of 1975, near the time of Saigon’s final collapse I received a long disjointed letter in which Bowker described the problem of finding meaningful use of his life after the war. He had worked briefly as an automobile parts sales man, a janitor, a car wash attendant and a short order cook at the local A&W fast food franchise. None of these jobs had lasted more than ten weeks. (pg155)

It’s logical that not all soldiers after the war will assimilate into the community immediately. This is because their mental state, personal experiences and emotions over power their ability to act normally.  At times the opportunities they are faced with differ from where they come from and level of education


It’s time to be blunt. I’m forty-three years old, true, and I’m a writer now and a long time ago I walked through Quang Ngai Province as a foot soldier. (pg.179)

I feel assured that everyone at a point in their life stop and reflect where they’re, where they’re going and they from. I can relate to him because I find myself doing the same thing, re-assuring me that I am not alone in this world.

(d) Awareness of genre

Narrative and historical

A few months after completing ‘In the Field,’ I returned with my daughter to Vietnam, where we visited the site of Kiowa’s death and where I looked for signs of forgiveness or personal grace or whatever else the land might offer . (pg 181)

Vietnam War ended a few decades ago and it left the author devastated and guilty. Wondering if things could have changed what would have been the outcome. Seeing that the land has deformed and been utilized for greater effects.

(e) Knowledge of field

But this too is true: stories can save us. I’m forty three years old, and a writer now and even still, right here, I keep dreaming Linda alive. And Ted Lavender, too and Kiowa, and Curt Lemon, and a slim young man I killed and an old man sprawled beside a pigpen and several others whose bodies I once Lifted and dumped into the truck. (pg225)

In his own experience the author is able to express timely events and when his researching his well aware of what he wants his audience to know. 

Middle sex by Jeffrey Eugenides

(a)    In the index the author states that he drew information from other authors. By doing so he was able to combine the writing styles and come up with similar or better information as research to tell a story.

(b)   Awareness of  audience

In such a masculine house hold, Tessie had began to feel like the odd woman out and saw herself in ten years time imprisoned in a world of hubcaps and hernias. My mother pictured a daughter as a counterinsurgent. (pg6)

The author gave a background to where her reasoning began to question itself on her gender identity. This gives the audience an insight of where realization began. I believe that once you begin to question yourself about anything there’s something wrong.

Sourmelina’s anguish at her husband’s death far exceeded her affection for him in life… and bemoaned the fate of her newborn daughter (pg127)

It’s expected for a widow to moan and blame the next of kin for her loss but not for the life that the dead left behind to remind them of. This may have been an indication of depression and a hint to the audience that the family had emotional and self identity issues.

(c ) rhetorical style


I’d never been this close to the obscure object before. It was hard on my organism. My nervous system launched into ‘Flight of the Bumblebee’. The violins were sawing in my spine. The timpani were banging in my chest… I didn’t look directly at her. I kept my eyes on the book.(pg 326)

I feel the author’s main character was beginning to portray some elements of attraction to the same sex as she was finding it hard to retain those feelings.  In which she never knew existed between the same genders or in her life. The main character was being vital towards the obscure object. As well as seeing a new kind of woman in the obscure object as the appealing instead of the repulsing. By her silence she’s enticed to explore her and hoping she would respond.


And while I was blinking he covered the obscure lips with his sour, handsome, pot smoking mouth. Across the flickering shack Jerome and I were left pretending not to notice. The joint was ours not to bog art as we wished. (pg372)

I watched the objects mud-stained leg dancing. I concentrated on that leg so that I hardly noticed when Jerome began to pull me down our cot (pg374)

The author shows jealousy at play when she couldn’t bear the thought of, she being with someone else and letting her happiness be overshadowed by her lust.

(d)Awareness of genre


He had received the results of the endocrinological tests performed at Henry Ford Hospital. He suspected that the tissues mass he palpated inside me was testicular. (pg413)

I got a recessive gene on my fifth chromosome and some very rare family jewels indeed.(pg401)

I find this persuasive because it takes time to obtain results from a medical doctor who is still trying to figure out what is wrong even though minimal research has been done to determine actual cause. For a rare disease to be detected as genetic in the family indicates that the author may have done a lot of research to prove that it’s possible and true.

(e) Knowledge of field

I tossed and turned every night unable to sleep straight through. I was like the princess and the pea. (pg424)

To be a patient and not know what tomorrow has in store for you gives restless nights. This shows that the author was familiar with the main characters state of mind and emotion as he refered to one of the most famous children’s fairy tales.

The author also cited a preliminary study: Genetic XY (male) raised as female (pg435)

He indicates how crucial patient and doctor confidentiality is and his ability to interpret what he found. As well as what he has been writing about work hand in hand and follow right through swiftly. Even though, the outcome is not a positive one, the same flow of work is his written to his best of knowledge.

2) Tell me what you got out of this entire novel experience with regard to thinking about and understanding research writing 


When thinking about and understanding research writing the researcher should have at least a firm grip about their topic and enough sources to evaluate the content of work.

For example, 0’Brien (1990) mentioned that after the war Jimmy Cross came to visit him in Massachusetts and entertained them by looking at old photos and began to talk about the good old days.  In a way this triggered his memory on what to write about and most of all it can be viewed as an interview. Because he might have asked him certain questions to lead him into thinking about what kind of stories to include in this novel. (pg27)

By speaking to someone else who was present at the time of the war may fill you in on a few certain issues that might have been blurry in the beginning.

According to Eugenides(2002) by reading published journals even if they’re about yourself they may contain information doctors may have not been straight forward to you about. This is seen when Calliope Stephan ides decides to reflect on her past life and growth as an individual who used to be reserved. (pg3)

 The writers’ genre should be identifiable in the first few pages of the work so as to determine voice and tone.  This should be consistent through out the paper.

O’Brien (1990) indicates that this is a narrative and historical writing by constantly alerting his audience that at present the main character of the novel is self employed and aged forty three and remembering the way most of his friends passed on and what was held dear to them knew that they were loved. (pg32).

I’m forty three years old, true and I’m a writer now, and a long time ago I walked through Quang Nagi Province as foot soldier. Almost everything else is invented (pg179)

Eugenides (2002) keeps a persuasive genre by reflecting on how the main character is physically attracted to the same gender as she is. Not knowing she wishes to be the opposite sex and has some organs in her to prove that she can be what she wishes to be. The emotional roller coaster she is encountering is expected but only a few people would respond in a positive way. (pg347)

I waited three days before calling Julie again. It was ten o’clock at night and she was still in her studio working. She hadn’t eaten so I suggested we eat something. I said I’d come by and pick her up. (pg183)

Though this occurred many years later when she had decided to change the way she dressed and being  more masculine, she had chosen not to suppress her feeling anymore. Those who didn’t know her past couldn’t tell the difference until she told them her self.





Eugenides, J. (2002). Middle sex. New York. Picador

O’Brien, T. (1990). The things they carried .  New York. Broadway


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