Dan Gaumer Gaumer 1
Hard Times of Norman Bowker Have you ever found yourself carrying something heavy for a long period of time? Do you remember feeling pain, or wanting to drop the object because it was too much to bear? Tim O’brien’s novel, The Things They Carried, is about men in the middle of the Vietnam War just trying to survive. These men, like all soldiers, carried many things ranging from the physical items of war to the emotional and mental weight that comes along with the horrors of war. “They carried all they could bear, and then some, including a silent awe for the terrible power of the things they
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These recurring events also spring memories of the beautiful lake where Norman used to spend a lot of time with his now married ex-girlfriend Sally Kramer and his high school friends. The lake invokes nostalgic and sentimental memories both of his girlfriend and his long gone - drowned - best friend, Max Arnold. However, now for Norman the past seems an idea, or like Max would say, that everything exists as a "possible...idea, even necessary as an idea, a final cause in the whole structure of causation" (133). Thus, his ex girlfriend, his friends, the lake, the gatherings, his father and all the rest exist as ideas in Norman's head now that all of his past exists only as flickering thoughts in a big jumbled chaos in his head. All of this has symptoms of PDST all over it. He only possesses the solitary capability of bragging about the medals he won or he should have won. Even that does not bring him comfort since he imagines talking to Sally: " 'How's it being married?' he might ask, and he'd nod at whatever she answered with, and he would not say a word about how he'd almost won the Silver Star for valor" (134). Nothing fulfills Norman Bowker anymore. Instead, a terrible confusion has taken over his mind in the form of blur and chaos. He desperately needs someone to talk to: "If Sally had not been
Gaumer 4 married, or if his father were not such a baseball fan, it would have been a good time to talk" (134).