Monday, January 30, 2012

Interpretive questions so far

These will need reshaping and revising, but it's a good place to start to get ideas out there to consider for an essay.  Think about this as you read the questions: Is it a yes/no question? That is not good.  Does it even qualify as an interpretive question?  Check the definition.  Is it too broad, or narrow, for a 4-8 page essay to cover? 

Why does Martha have the effect that she does on Jimmy?

What makes a war story?

Why does Norman kill himself?

Why is it easier for some people to transition from war time to peace time but not others?
 . In what ways does Tim keep Linda alive? Why?
2. Despite being based in Vietnam, The Things They Carried isn't necessarily a book about war. instead, it's a book about people. How do different soldier's actions reflect their individual baggage that they carry? What does this tell us about humans in general?
What were the heaviest things the soldiers had to carry?
2. What is the purpose for Tim O'Brien to write these war stories?
3. Why did Tim O'Brien go back to Vietnam twenty years later besides for his daughters birthday?
4. Why did the men have to go back for Kiowa even though they might have already known he was dead?
Do you think it would be easy to tell someone you killed someone?
Do you think it would be easy to know your friend was dead but you had to continue to search for them?
1.What weighed so heavily on Norman Bowker that he felt the need to commit suicide?

2. How did the things the soldiers carried affect them throughout the rest of their lives?
The Man I Killed
Why is it so hard for him to handle the death of this man?

What does Tim O'Brien hope to accomplish by putting all of his war stories into writing?

Does the girl ever stop to acknowledge the presence of the Tim, Azar and Henry?

What role does Mary Anne Bell play in creating a theme about war efforts?

What all does a soldier carry besides what is needed for combat?
1) How does someone find peace after being at war?

2) Are there any situations where violence can solve problems?

 1.  why does Tim O'Brien make up real stories instead of telling the exact truth?
2. What are the the things they carried?

1) How does O'Brien choose to honor the dead?
2) How do the physical things they carried differ from the emotional things they carried?
3) How does war change a person?

The Things They Carried

My favorite chapter of this novel is the beginning chapter, "The Things They Carried". This chapter has such an impact and really draws in the reader. It sets the standards for the following chapters, and gives the readers a taste of what the rest of the book is about. In this chapter, O'Brien not only describes the physical artifacts that the soldiers carried with them, but he also describes the emotional feelings that they carry with them. A favorite quote from this chapter is on page 21. O'Brien writes, "They carried all the emotional baggage of men who might die. Grief, terror, love, longing--these were intangibles, but the intangibles had their own mass and specific gravity, they had tangible weight. They carries shameful memories. They carried the common secret of cowardice barely restrained, the instinct to run or freeze or hide, and in many respects this was the heaviest burden of all, for it could never be put down, it required perfect balance and perfect posture. They carried their reputations. They carried the soldier's greatest fear, which was the fear of blushing" (O'Brien 21).

How to Tell a True War Story

My favorite chapter so far was "How to Tell a True War Story". I really enjoyed all the different stories in this chapter. As well as, the use of detail Tim O'Brien uses to describe a scene or a feeling. I liked this chapter because of the serious yet humorous writing style of Tim O'Brien when telling us about Rat Kiley's letter to Curt's sister, the intense details used during Mitchell Sanders story, and the heartfelt words used when describing Curt Lemon's death. There is so much emotion in the chapter and what makes it different, in my opinion, is that the reader experiences a mixture of different emotions.
The best thing about this chapter I think is the fact that Tim O'Brien doesn't come out and tell you the point he's trying to say, nor does he state things in a "matter of fact" way. He leaves things to the reader to interpret and figure out on their own. He also will say one thing in different ways to make you look at it in a different light or say one thing that has multiple meanings. Overall, the writing style used in this chapter and the emotional experience of this chapter made it my favorite.

Sunday, January 29, 2012

On The Rainy River

On the rainy river was my favorite chapter in the entire book. I thought it was interesting how O'Brien faced a tough decision and how he made the decision to go fight in the war. O'Brien explains how hard of a decision it was for him and how deeply he had to think about the decision. O'Brien would have gone to Canada if not for Elroy. O'Brien said, "I was a coward. I went to the war." I liked the irony towards the end of the chapter where he called himself a coward, when he being brave in the eyes of everyone else and going to fight in the war. O'Brien felt deep inside that if he was courageous than he would have left the country and do what he really wanted to do, but he fell into the peer pressure and fought in the war.

How to tell a True War Story

In the book, the chapter that meant the most to me was "On the Rainy River." I liked this chapter because it was true in every way. No matter what others say, what you feel on the inside almost always wins. While he was on the river he thought more and more about going to war. And when he finally decided to go back it was because his inner self was telling him too. My favorite character is Jimmy Cross because he showed love for a girl back home. Even though she didn't love him it is a true war feeling. Many of the men left a loved one behind and its all they thought about. Jimmy only thought about Martha. "I would go to war- I would kill and maybe die- because i was embarrassed not to (O'Brien 59)." This quote from On the Rainy River is very significant because it showed what his reason was for going to war. It wasn't for him, his country, or the right thing to do. It was because he was embarrassed.

How to Tell a True War Story

In my opinion, I liked this chapter the best because if you think about it, it is completely true. Knowing mulitple people who have served in a war, I started to realize that some of the stories they told me might not be true. "A true story is never Moral. A true war story cannot be believed in many cases. You can tell a true war story by the way it never seems to end. A true war story never generalizes. And, you can tell a true war story by the questions you ask," (O'Brien 68-83), this goes to explain that you will never learn something from a war story and it should not contain very much detail, otherwise it is most likely not all true. This chapter means the most to me not for a reason pertaining to the book, but more for the fact that my younger brother will be attending The United States Military Academy at West Point next year. As we discussed in class, "War changes people," and not always for the better, so I am curious how my little brother will act in a couple years. At this point in the story, I would have to say that Mary Anne is my favorite character because she is a perfect example of how war changes people.


The chapter that means the most to me is Friends.  Even though Strunk and Jensen had their own little war over the jacknife,  they soon got over it.  They didnt become instant friends but they did learn to trust eachother and have eachothers backs.   Even if you have a fight with someone, life is to short to sweat the small things.  I like that part when Strunk gets injured Jensen really tries to comfort him even though in that particular situation it was not so good, he says "Really its not so bad, Not terrible. Hey really--they can sew it back on --really." (O'Brien pg. 66)

Mary Anne Bell

Mary Anne Bell is my favorite character in the book so far because although the story that Rat tells did not really happen. The way she is characterized makes her seem so real and makes it seem like anyone can be involved in the war effort. I know that I would be very scared to enter an environment of that intensity, but Mary Anne Bell sees the land and the people rather than the misery that the war has put on the country. She learns and quickly responds to becoming one of the guys. On page 114, O'Brein writes, ..."after a time the wanting became needing, which turned then to craving." This is an important statement because one can see how the war affects those who are involved and I think this statement isn't just referring to the war, but to life in general. When someone becomes passionate about something it is very easy to go from wanting to needing to craving. This can be applied to hobbies, books, food, people, and so on. The way the Mary Anne Bell character was described has really stuck with me and makes me feel like anyone can lend a helping hand in the war effort and learn the trades of combat.

On The Rainy River

The chapter that means the most to me is On The Rainy River. In this chapter Tim O'Brien really has to dig down deep inside himself and make a life changing decision. He does not want to go fight a war he doesn't support but he also does not want to make a fool of himself and run from the war. I think his decision to go to the war was the right one because if he did not go he would have to live with that for the rest of his life. O'Brien writes "You're at the bow of a boat on the Rainy River. You're twenty-one years old, you're scared, and there's a hard squeezing pressure in your chest. What would you do? Would you jump? Would you feel pity for yourself? Would you think about your family and your childhood and your dreams and all you're leaving behind? Would it hurt? Would it feel like dying? Would you cry as I did?" (O'Brien 56)


My favorite chapter in "The Things They Carried" so far is "Enemies". This chapter really shows how sometimes in war, things can get a little sticky between those who are on the same side. Strunk and Jensen end up getting into a fight over a lost Jackknife that was thought to be stolen. Which it was. My favorite Character would have to be Strunk because he found the entire situation to be humorous. Strunk said, as he was laughing "The man's crazy, I stole his fucking Jackknife." (O'Brien quote on page 64).

Friday, January 27, 2012

The Dentist

The chapter that meant the most to me from The Things They Carried by Tim O'Brien is called The Dentist. This chapter means the most to me because Curt Lemon was scared of the dentists and in a crazy way overcame his own fear. I feel I can relate to this in a way because I have overcome some of my own fears of the dentist, although not in the crazy way Lemon did. O'Brien said, "The embarrassment must've turned a screw in his head. . . . The dentist couldn't find any problem, but Lemon kept insisting, so the man finally shrugged and shot in the Novocain and yanked out a perfectly good tooth. There was some pain, no doubt, but in the morning Curt Lemon was all smiles." (88) I have been scared of the dentists and had to get my wisdom teeth out and I overcame this fear and had them taken out.
I do not have a favorite character out of the book so far at least. The reason for this is because I simply cannot choose just one. Out of all the characters that have been introduced there is something I like about all of them or that I have been able to relate too. For example, Rat Kiley made me laugh when he was talking about the sister not writing him back and the things he said about her made me laugh or the way he tells stories makes me laugh because he exagerates so much. When Tim ran away from his responsibilities, I felt I could relate because I always try to run from my responsibilities but in the end I always come back to them too. For me, there is just too many things that I like about every character too choose from.

Sweetheart of the Song Tra Bong

Out of all the chapters in The Things They Carried, my favorite chapter would have to be Sweetheart of the Song Tra Bong. I love this chapter. It was my favorite chapter because it shows all the changes that Mary Ann Bell goes through while she is visiting Mark Fossie. She starts out as a cheerleader from Cleveland Heights Senior High and transforms into a woman who joins the Greenies and wears a necklace made of tongues. In one part of the story she even says. " Sometimes I want to eat this place. The whole country, the dirt, the death, I just want to swallow it and have it there inside me." She pretty much gets obsessed with everything going on in Vietnam. At the end of the chapter, she even leaves Mark and runs off. This chapter shows how there is a place for everyone in the war. This chapter also shows a lot of scenery details and uses a lot of figurative language. 


In the novel The Things They Carried, my favorite chapter so far is Church. I really like this chapter because it reflects how peaceful things can be in such harsh conditions. I also am fond of this chapter because it shows the irony of how many of the people fighting the war just want peace and friendliness, even with the hatred of the war itself. When Kiowa says "All you can do is be nice. Treat them decent, you know?" (123) it makes me feel a lot of compassion to him and his character, thus making him my favorite so far. I guess to sum up what I mean, is that this chapter just slows things down, and puts you into a memorable moment amongst many other action packed chapters.


Sweetheart of the Song Tra Bong. Where do you begin with a chapter with so much in it. The chapter was a total surprise to me. While reading it I thought I had it figured out right at the beginning. I thought Mary Anne was going to get too comfortable and get herself or someone else killed. It was like getting hit with a sledge hammer when she went totally over the edge and started singing and wearing the ears as a necklace. This chapter shows that war and even life itself can drastically change a person. Mary Anne is my favorite character in this chapter and like Mary Anne with her war, I lost my innocence when I went to work at a prison. I can see myself in her where O'Brien wrote ("Listen, the guy sends her the money. Flies her over. This cute blonde-just a kid,just barely out of high school-she shows up with a suitcase and one of those plastic cosmetic bags, Comes right out of the boonies. I swear to God, man, shes's got on culottes and this sexy pink sweater. there she is.") (O'Brien 90) I can see myself in the same position, wearing a new and pressed uniform, carrying my lunchbox, and wearing my shinny boots. After a time Mary Anne looses her innocence and is found with a necklace of ears. I lost my innocence in that prison and like Mary I sometimes wear my 15 years experience as a grotesque badge of honor.

Speaking of Courage

The chapter in Tim O'Brien's book that has ment the most to me has been Speaking of Courage. The main character is Norman Bowker, another man who was in Tim's platoon. This chapter has ment the most to me because O'Brien writes it for Norman, even though it was really hard for him. Tim O'Brien in his next chapter, Notes, says " Now a decade after his death, I'm hoping that Speaking of Courage makes good  on Norman Bowkers silence." (160) You can tell how important it was to him to get it right and I think he did a really good job.


My favorite chapter by far in this book was the short chapter Stockings. It was all about how my favorite character, Henry Dobbins, wears his girlfriends stockings around his neck in a hope that it will bring him good luck and keep him safe. I find Henry very likeable because the fact that he is a big guy that is genuine and sticks up for others, even though he isn't the smartest person. O'Brien, while describing Dobbins, states that "In many ways he was like America itself, big and strong, full of good intentions, a roll of fat jiggling at his belly..." (117). Dobbins is just a likeable character. I could really connect to the chapter because throughout football we always had our superstitions, whether it be a certain prayer before every game or wearing a relic like a special wristband or shoe laces.


O'Brien's book The Things They Carried, has so many great stories in it. The real challenge is picking my favorite. All of his stories have a great meaning and really can help people to understand how war is. This story has some comedy linked into it, but it is also very serious and I believe it affects a lot of people in real life. When someone wants to get revenge on someone, it can cause the person they are seeking revenge on to be extremely scared. It makes them just want that person to get their revenge so they can go on with their lives. Even though beating a person up feels so good, the backlash and the time leading up to the revenge is worse than the good feeling. This is evident in this story. O'Brien says, "Eventually, after a week of this, the strain began to create problems. Jensen couldn't relax"(O'Brien 63). Revenge puts your whole body in a different state and until that person gets revenge, life can be a challenge.
My favorite part from Tim O'Brien's The Things They Carried was the story called Enemy mostly because it really shows what being in a war like that can do to a person. In the story Jensen ans Strunk get into a fist fight because Jensen thinks Strunk stole his Jack Knife. Jensen then beats Strunk in the face uncontrollably and breaks Strunk's nose. Later on, Jensen thinks Strunk's going to get revenge on him so he keeps alert and sits in a corner so that he can see everything that goes on around him. Once he decides it's driving him crazy, he calls to Strunk and shows him that he beat himself in the nose to square things off.
My favorite character is Strunk because of how relaxed he is and also because of what he said about Jensen's knife at the end of the story. He said "that man's crazy...I stole his fucking Jackknife" (O'Brien, 64) while laughing uncontrollably. I liked how he was staying positive from the whole situation and making a joke about it unlike Jensen who took it to the next level.

TTTC response

The chapter that I like the most is called Field Trip. At this point in the story Tim goes back to Vietnam where he visits the death of his old friend Kiowa. He takes his daughter with him too, she doesn't really understand whats going on, but with Tim's interpretation and inner monologue we see a heartfelt sense towards Kiowas death. He really misses the guy. My favorite character would also be Tim because he tells you throughout the story that "To generalize about the war is like generalizing about peace"(81). He really take the emotions from all corners of the war into this book.

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Favorite Story in TTTC

My favorite part of The Things They Carried so far is Sweetheart of the Song Tra Bong. It was a really good story and I could visualize everything perfectly. I thought it was really sweet how Mark Fossie misssed his girl so much he flew her all the way from the states to Vietnam. Her transition from civilian to feral girl was quite fast and she took to the jungle with amazing finesse. This part really hooked me on the book and I finished it last night because I couldn't seem to put it down. Definitely one of the best books I have ever read.

Monday, January 23, 2012

Antiwar/ Protest music of the 60's

Music in the 60s became the foundation of expressing the emotions and anger towards the war. The music was a way to pronounce political messages through lyrics. The 1960s became known as the decade of protest, due to the Vietnam war and the civil rights movement. In August 1968, Phil Ochs performed the song "I Ain't Marching Anymore" at a Democratic National Convention, which pursuaded many men to burn their draft cards. This song focuses on the brutality and endless nature of war, and the history of the United States' engagement in war.

60's Anti-war music

In 1969 Edwin Starr created an Anti- war song spilling his raw emotions for what exactly war accomplishes, which according to him is " absolutely nothin". This song was originally produced under a motown label. Although this song is made famous by Edwin Starr this song was oringinally created and preformed by the temptations. The name of this emotional protesting song is called "War"

Sunday, January 22, 2012

Blog 1

     My name is Miranda Ostrander. I am a freshman this year and I am currently majoring in pre-business. I'm interested in studying accounting. In my free time I enjoy many things. I love to read most any kind of books. Right at the moment, I'm reading a series of books called The House of Night. Its fiction and mystery which keeps my attention. I also love to hang out with my friends and boyfriend of 4 years, Christopher. I'm currently 5 months pregnant and am trying to plan my baby shower and get things ready for the baby to come.
     The essay that interested me the most was Resurrection, by Frederick Douglass. It interested me most because I felt his pain and struggle as a slave from the reading. The thing that struck me about his life was the fight that came between him and Mr. Covey. It struck me because after all the things he had been through and all the things that Mr. Covey had done to him, he some how found the strength inside him to fight. He regained his feeling of self-confidence  and inspired him to with a determination to be free. After reading this, I felt great pride for Frederick and no longer any pain.

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Tim O'Brien grew up in a small town in Minnesota, called Worthington. Although, he was born in Austin, Minnesota on October 1, 1946. He enrolled at Macalester college and graduated in 1968 with a BA in political science and a draft notice. O'Brien was against war, but reported for service and was sent to Vietnam. His tour of duty lasted from 1969 to 1970. After Vietnam he became a graduate at Harvard and was one of the very few Vietnam veterans there at the time. He got the opportunity to do an intership at the Wasington Post, he eventually left Harvard to become a newspaper reporter. O'Brien's career as a reporter gave way to his fiction writing when he published his memoir, If I Die in a Combat Zone, Box Me Up and Send Me Home. One of his quotes that really helped me understand why he writes was, " I didn't get into writing to make money or get famous or any of that. I got into it to hit hearts, and man, when i get letters not just from the soldiers but from their kids, especially their kids, it makes it all worthwhile."

The Fall of Saigon

April 30th, 1975 was the day that Saigon, the capitol of South Vietnam, fell. This ended the Vietnam War. The North Vietnamese army captured Saigon, where after this point started the reunification of Vietnam under communist rule.
The final attack on Saigon by the Communist forces began on April 29th with heavy artillery and by afternoon the next day occupied Saigon and raised their flags. The city was renamed Ho Chi Minh City. After the Fall of Saigon, American forces were allowed to evacuate.
The 1968 battle of Khe Sanh was one of the longest deadliest and most controversial battles in Vietnam.  Khe Sanh is a village located near the Laotian border and south of the demilitarization zone, it seperated the north and south vietnam.  By the middle of January some 6,000 Marines and Army troops occupied the Khe Sanh army base and all surroundig positions.  U.S. Marine Corps helicopter units were deployed around Khe Sanh to support operations by U.S. Special Forces and the Army of the Republic of Vietnam.

MLK's "Beyond Vietnam" speech

From what I gather, King gave this speech in response to the United States action against the Vietnam. He highly disagreed with the reasons that the U.S. joined, and continued to fight. As a country that was just learning to grow in it's rights for all people, he found it highly hypocritical that the U.S. went over and started to murder all of these people, when it could probably be solved in more rational, peaceful ways. Because he gave this speech, King became liked by everyone, including the president, who had took his words into consideration time and time again, before. One important thing from my research was that one of the reasons that the U.S. went to Vietnam was because they were a "major Communist country," when they were actually less than 25% communist. Also, I found it interesting that King spoke of all of this in truth, and was criticized so harshly afterwords, especially since he was such a leader right up until that moment. The full speech can be both read and heard at

The My Lai massacre

On March 16, 1968 the  men of Charlie Company, 11th Brigade, Americal Division entered the Vietnamese village of My Lai.
My Lai lay in the South Vietnamese district of Son My. It was a heavily minded area where the Vietcong were deeply entrenched. Numerous members of the Charlie Company were maimed or killed in the area during the proceeding weeks. The troops under the command of Lt. William Calley entered the area, ready to fire.
  As the " search and destroy" mission unfolded, it soon turned into a massacre of over 300 unarmed civilians including women,children and the elderly. Calley ordered his men to enter the village firing, though there had been no report of opposing fire. According to eyewitness reports, the elderly men were bayoneted. Women and children were shot in the back of the head and at least one girl was raped before she was killed. Lt. Cally was said to have round up a group of villagers, order them into a ditch and he mowed them down with a fury of machine gun fire.

"Four Dead in Ohio"

Four Dead in Ohio was a protest song composed by Neil Young of the group Crosby, Stills, Nash, and Young. It was band from the airways for it's "anti war" and "anti Nixon" sentiments. Neil Young wrote this now famous song right after the Kent State Massacre on May 4th 1970. According to 20th Century History, 4 students were killed, Allison Krause, William, Schroeder, Jeffrey Miller, and Sandra Schever. The song was not only a protest of the war, but how the general public was being treated at home by the Nixon administration. Here is the song with the lyrics.

Kent State

This tragic shooting was easily one of the most memorable events of the sixties and its impact still lives on today.  This is the most iconic photograph of that event.  I also include here this link to the university site itself.

Four Dead in Ohio

"Four Dead on Ohio" was written immediately after the Kent State Massacre, which took place on May 4, 1970. The song was originally call "Ohio" and its name was later changed. The song is unique and gutsy because it is only ten lines long that are repeated twice. This was a very courageous act made by Neil Young because he called Nixon out, who ordered for seventy seven Ohio National Guardsmen to storm the Kent State campus, where students were protesting the Vietnam War. Twenty eight of the seventy seven men started shooting when they reached the top of hill on campus. A total of sixty seven rounds were shot leaving four dead and nine others wounded. Some of the most moving words in the song for me are "what if you knew her and found her dead on the ground" because I feel like this really depicts the pain that the students felt on the campus that day. America was a place where they always felt they had the freedom to speak and express themselves but the shooting put everyone on edge and infuriated all who became aware of what the government was capable of. Below is one of the most famous pictures taken on that day and make me think only of those words that I shared with you earlier in this post. I have also uploaded a link where you can watch the music video, learn the words, and see images from that day and all of those who were affected and still grieve over the loss of their classmates.