Too embarrassed to stand up for moral convictions “I was ashamed of my conscience, ashamed to be doing the right thing” (O’Brien 49). “I was a coward. I went to war” (O’Brien 58).
“Courage” as a form of embarrassment “They carried all the emotional baggage of men who might die.... Rather, they were too frightened to be cowards.” (O’Brien 20-21)
“Hard vocabulary” of “grunt lingo” “They used a hard vocabulary to contain the terrible softness. Greased they’d say. Offed, lit up, zapped while zipping. It wasn’t cruelty, just stage presence. They were actors. When someone died, it wasn’t quite dying, because in a curious way it seemed scripted, and because they had their lines mostly memorized, irony mixed with tragedy, and because they called it by other names, as if to encyst and destroy the reality of death itself. They kicked corpses. They cut off thumbs. They talked grunt lingo.” (O’Brien 19)
Gendered language Courage is masculine “Stainless steel balls” (O’Brien 64) Fear is feminine “Pussies” (O’Brien 21) “Pussy!” (O’Brien 57)
Masculinity as a construction Characters are doubtful of their courage Therefore they’re doubtful of their masculine identity Hyper-masculine behavior Violence Bravado / macho attitude Sexualized language
Repeated traumatic scenes Death of Curt Lemon Mainly in “How to Tell a True War Story” Briefly mentioned in other stories Death of man killed by narrator Mainly in “The Man I Killed,” “Ambush,” and “Good Form” Briefly mentioned in other stories Death of Kiowa Mainly in “Speaking of Courage,” “Notes,” “In the Field,” and “Field Trip” Briefly mentioned in other stories
Death of man killed by narrator Repeats physical details of corpse Star-shaped hole for eye Delicate fingers Rubber sandals blown off Invents details about man’s life Scholar Reluctant to fight
Death of Kiowa Takes place in a shitfield Shitfield as symbol Of Vietnam War Of memory
Death of Kiowa Kiowa’s death is blamed on different people: Norman Bowker in “Speaking of Courage” First person narrator in “Notes” Unnamed soldier “In the Field”
This book is fiction, right? Title page: The Things They Carried, a work of fiction by Tim O’Brien ENGL 101: Introduction to Fiction
Parts of this book are real, right? Narrator is named “Tim O’Brien,” like the author Narrator shares biographical details with the author Narrator is a writer Narrator was drafted into war between university and graduate school Narrator wrote If I Die in a Combat Zone and Going after Cacciato Book is dedicated to characters named in its stories
Narrator will deliberately draw our attention to book’s authenticity “How to Tell a True War Story” “This is true” (O’Brien 66) “Good Form” Page 71
Definition from Merriam-Webster metafiction: “fiction which refers to or takes as its subject fictional writing and its conventions” Quoted from Merriam-Webster Online: www.m-w.comwww.m-w.com
Metafiction “In many cases... beyond telling.” (O’Brien 68)
Metafiction What are the implications of the same story repeated in different versions? What are the implications of “truth” and “fiction” being so intertwined? What are the implications of storytelling being a main theme of this book?
Exam is open book and open notes Must bring: Pen or pencil SFU student ID Should bring: Marked copy of The Things They Carried Notes from lecture Close Reading sheet Specially prepared notes for exam Scrap paper
Exam is open book and open notes Might bring: Dictionary Another book for reference (be sure to cite!) CANNOT bring: Anything electronic (e.g., laptop, electronic translator, cell phone) Anything potentially noisy or distracting Anything to share with classmates
Exam Format 1 hour long 2 questions, each worth 50%
Passage analysis You will be given a choice of three passages from The Things They Carried. Choose two. For each passage you choose, write one or two paragraphs that analyze the internal complexities and ambiguities of the material, offering your own interpretations. Your analyses will probably discuss the passage’s significance to the entire book. Your answer should focus on an analysis of the passage, not merely a description of the passage or a list of observations about it.
To prepare for exam Practice Close Reading Choose passages relevant to themes in lecture Bring examples of Close Reading to office hours
Room for Exam Exam is scheduled on Saturday, August 13 th, 4:30 to 5:30 p.m. All students will be in SUR 2600
Please remember to submit Final Draft via WebCT Due date is Monday, August 8 th during LECTURE Also turn in via WebCT
Lecture evaluations will be conducted today You will evaluate the lecture and tutorial components separately Evaluations are anonymous and will be NOT be opened until AFTER all grades are submitted Please provide as much detail as possible—it helps us improve
Please comment on My skills as a lecturer The assignment structure Four small exams instead of one cumulative exam One large essay assignment broken into steps
Good luck on Exam #4! Good luck on your exams in other classes!