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Literary analysis of Tim O'Brien's novel The Things They Carried- Relationship between Women & Men - Essay Example

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Literary Analysis of Tim O’Brien’s Novel, “The Things They Carried” – Relationship between Women and Men. The women in Tim O’Brien’s book The Things They Carried play a very important role because they represent the world that the young men have left behind when they came to war…
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Literary analysis of Tim OBriens novel The Things They Carried- Relationship between Women & Men
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"Literary analysis of Tim O'Brien's novel The Things They Carried- Relationship between Women & Men"

Download file to see previous pages The reader is introduced to Mary Ann Bell as part of a story told by Rat Kiley. This is warning enough that the story may not be true, but it nevertheless portrays a certain kind of fantasy about women that the soldiers have. She is described in sexist terms as “This cute blonde…she’s got on culottes. White culottes and this sexy pink sweater” (p. 86) The importance of this character at the beginning is that she is sweet and innocent, and her clean pink and white clothes are a sharp contrast to the dirty green uniforms that everyone wears on the battlefield. Her boyfriend Mark Fossie is supposed to have arranged for her to come over to join him, and no doubt this is the dream of every soldier. The whole episode is obviously fantasy and wish fulfilment. The story of Mary Ann Bell’s corruption by the horrors of war is symbolized in her appearance when she is found in the creepy cave. The author stresses that she is the same person that she was before, and yet something dreadful has happened to her: “She was barefoot. She wore her pink sweater and a white blouse and a simple cotton skirt.” (p. 105) This cheerleader image is shattered, however with the revelation: “At the girl’s throat was a necklace of human tongues.” (p. ...
The innocent eyes of girls at home are contrasted with the fictitious Mary Anne Bell who did share the boys’s experience: “She was there. She was up to her eyeballs in it.” (p. 108) The legend of Mary Anne Bell is the legend of the girlfriend who turned into a better soldier than all of the young men and actually enjoyed the terror and the gruesome body parts and awful smells. Mary Anne Bell is both the idealized dream girlfriend, and the terrifying nightmare girlfriend who loses her cuteness and becomes just as depraved and hardened as the men. Neither version is a real person, of course. It seems that the men need these psychological extremes to love and to hate. Mary Anne Bell is a harmless target of their strongest emotions and thinking about her helps them to work through difficult feelings. Some of the male characters pretend that they are great lovers who can attract many women, and this betrays an attitude of seeing women as sex objects. An example of this is the stories that Rat Kiley told about his exploits: “If Rat told you, for example, that he’d slept with four girls one night, you could figure it was about a girl and a half.” (page 85). All of the women characters in the book are presented through the eyes of the soldiers and they are all to some extent used by the soldiers as objects. This kind of objectification can be insulting to women, but there are many occasions where the reader can see that there is real love going on between the soldiers and their wives and girlfriends. There is obviously a difficulty in doing this because the men are separated from their female friends and relatives, but in this situation small tokens are used instead. These are more than just souvenirs, but they become holders of deep ...Download file to see next pagesRead More
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