Literary Conflict in The Things They Carried

Literary Conflict in The Things They Carried

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  • While keeping watch as the other soldiers slept, Tim O'Brien came across a Vietnam soldier. Before even thinking about what he was doing, O'Brien pulled the pin from a grenade and threw it towards the soldier. In only a second, the soldier was thrown back from the force of the grenade, and was dead in that moment. While this scene was not a physical man vs. man conflict, there is still the notion of man vs. man in the sense that it was an American Soldier vs. a Vietnam soldier.
  • Man vs. Man Tim O'Brien vs. Man He Killed
  • After receiving his draft notice, O'Brien began to have conflicts within his own mind. He didn't wish to fo to war, for he feared death and he was not fond of the outdoors. He continuously goes back in forth between going to war, or fleeing to Canada. Once he has the Canadian border in sight, O'Brien ends the conflict and decides to be drafted. He then cries to ease some of the emotional pain.
  • Man vs. Self Tim O'Brien vs. Himself
  • When O'Brien receives his draft notice, he is conflicted between what he wants to do, and what society would want him to do. He would be a coward to society for not "being a man" and dealing with war conditions. Society would also call O'Brien a "traitor" for not fighting for his country. After many long thoughts, O'Brien gives in to society's standards.
  • Man vs. Society Tim O'Brien vs. Society
  • Rat Kiley beats and shoots at an innocent water buffalo in order to cope with the loss of Curt Lemon. He feels partially responsible for Lemon's death because he was with playing catch with him right before he stepped on the booby trap. To release some of the anger and frustration he was holding inside, Kiley abused the young buffalo and tossed the wretched body in a well.
  • Man vs. Self Rat Kiley vs. Himself
  • Due to bad past experiences, Lemon was afraid to visit the Army dentist for a check-up. Before even reaching the tent, Lemon got so nervous that he passed out, embarassing himself in front of the rest of his troop. In order to rid the sense of cowardice from his mind, Lemon goes back to the dentist and has him pull a perfectly healthy tooth.
  • Man vs. Self Curt Lemon vs. Himself
  • When taking a break along a trail junction in deep jungle, Curt Lemon and Rat Kiley started playing a game of catch with a smoke grenade under a tree. When Lemon stepped out from underneath the tree to continue the march, he stepped upon a booby trapped 105 round, killing him instantly. Without the technology advancement to make a grenade, Curt Lemon would have still had a chance at life.
  • Man vs. Technology Curt Lemon vs. Grenade
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