The things they carried, by tim o'brien, the roles of shame, fear, courage,and heroism in the lives of soldiers

Essay by sugrmag12High School, 12th gradeA, November 2003

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What is the role of shame and fear in the lives of the soldiers? Does it drive them to acts of heroism or stupidity? Or both? What is the relationship between shame and courage?


-Soldiers fear being ashamed, it gives them courage

-Fine line between heroic and stupid

- The week he spent with Elroy Beerdal, fear of shame, courage

The roles of shame and fear play a large part in the soldier's lives. If it wasn't for the fact that the soldiers were so afraid of being ashamed they may have never performed some of the courageous acts they did. They're fears of how others perceived them and how they did not want to be looked upon as cowards drove them to acts of heroism and stupidity.

At the beginning of the book O'Brien is faced with a difficult question should he go to war and possibly face death, or burn his draft card and hide out in Canada? O'Brien packs his bags and prepares to hide out.

He stays with an old man in Minnesota, across the river from Canada, many times he contemplates stealing a boat and paddling across, however he doesn't. One day the old man takes him fishing in Canada, he has the choice to jump out of the boat and swim away, or go back and go to war, he goes to war.

O'Brien says he was not brave for going to war; he was a coward for not dodging the draft. The day when Elroy brings him out on the boat O'Brien know what he should do, but then he thinks of his friends, his family, and all the men dying for they're country. He thinks about what they would think about him, he knows that they would think...