Stylistic Analysis of Tim O'Brien's Writing

Essay by DunpealHigh School, 11th gradeA+, February 2005

download word file, 6 pages 5.0 1 reviews

Downloaded 66 times

Tim O'Brien is a highly acclaimed Vietnam War novelist. His depictions of the war are both gruesome and disturbing. O'Brien achieves such reality in his books by drawing material for his novels from his own experience. He uses imagination and fiction to find meaning in those experiences. The passions and ideas in his novels appeal to American readers with broad differences in political allegiance and social background. The novels are intimately personal, psychological, and explanatory. In his books Going After Cacciato and In the Lake of the Woods, Tim O'Brien develops themes such as true courage, loneliness, and psychological effects of the war by using narrative techniques, such as recounting thoughts and emotions of characters, in order to emphasize their fantasies, confusion, and obsessions.

In Going After Cacciato, the protagonist Paul Berlin cannot distinguish between what is real and what is imagined. In an attempt to distinguish between illusion and reality, Paul creates a continuous critical dialogue between himself and the world around him.

He always fantasizes about his home and his family. And although his platoon succeeds in catching Cacciato near the Laotian border, Berlin continues fantasizing. He imagines that Cacciato constantly manages to evade them, and the platoon must pursue him to Paris. He dreams up grotesque adventures in countries along the route, some hilarious escapades, some adolescent sexual fantasies, and some chilling encounters (Calloway 168). His fantasies interrupt and blend into the literal story of the chase, giving the narrative a nightmarish quality. Berlin and his fellow soldiers are innocents trapped in a corrupt, bizarre world, but the only character who seems truly courageous in the story is Cacciato (Eder 154). Even though his desertion is a nonsensical gesture, it frees him from the compromises to which the others cling: acceding to the draft, fighting a...