Sunday, March 15, 2015

Blog Post 2

Short Story: ¨The Lives of the Dead¨

Question: How does ¨The Lives of the Dead¨ and O'Brien's discussion of Linda serve as a suitable culmination of one or more of the themes explored in The Things They Carried?

In ¨The Lives of the Dead,¨ Obrien's wanting to sleep all the time so he can imagine Linda, his writing about her even forty-three years later, and his never ending thinking/talking concerning death all serve as a culmination of O'Brien's discussion of obsession. In this way, O'Brien reflects on the nature of how we refuse to let the things and people we love go to the point where obsession starts to occur. O'Brien also reflects in this way on the way humans can't, therefore never do, understand death. 


In O'Brien's opinion, death is something that doesn't always have to stop the lives of the living. He plays on this idea through the title of the last chapter in his novel, using the name ¨The Lives of the Dead¨ to portray this idea in the most obvious way. O'Brien claims to of been in love with a girl named Linda and explains his loving emotions towards her even 43 years after her death. Was O'Brien really in love with Linda? The odds against it are very high because it is hard for a nine year old to grasp the concept of being in love. In a way, I believe O'Brien is more so in love with death. He is obsessed with the way it leaves you with no answers; he is obsessed with finding these answers but he cannot, so instead he romanticizes death through his memory of Linda and Ted Lavender and every other solider he witnessed die in the war. 

Just like in the picture shown, O'Brien seethes with obsession. He can not let go of the things he can no longer experience, such as people, and because of that he singes with regret and anger and sadness. He holds obsession tightly within his strength, never letting anyone take away his memory of Linda or the tragedy of all the deaths of solders he experienced even if these memories cause him pain. Maybe he does not necessarily want to hold onto these things, but instead does not realize he is unhealthily holding onto these things through his numerous stories, therefore he is unable to come to the realization that he wants to let these things go in the first place. O'Brien does not realize he is obsessed. O'Brien tells us, ¨The thing about a story is that you dream it as you tell it, hoping others might then dream along with you, and in this way memory and imagination and language combine to make spirits in the head.¨ (p. 218) This describes O'Brien's love for stories due to his obsession for making dead figures come back to life in his own head.

¨She was dead. I understood that. After all, I'd seen her body. And yet even as a nine-year-old I had begun to practice the magic of stories. Some I just dreamed up. Others I wrote down- the scenes and dialogue. And at nighttime I'd slide into sleep knowing that Linda would be there waiting for me.¨ (p. 231) This passage shows Tim O'Brien's obsession with keeping the dead alive in an extremely clear manner. He understands logically that Linda is dead and he can never see her again, but he loves her and he does not want to let go of her or accept his reality so instead he chooses to enjoy the magic of her remains by dreaming up scenarios her in the most vivid way possible. Nine year old O'Brien finds a certain safety in doing this; O'Brien found and continues to find a safe haven in his stories of those who had died but he had been close too. Through this, O'Brien finds himself immensely deep in obsession.

But does O'Brien actually realize he is obsessed?

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