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Q2 Benchmark - The Self and the Changing World

The world often chooses to tell the narrative of the wholeheartedness of people, when evidence poses a very different reality. Often we think of mothers who transform into heroes for their children, lifting cars off of their kids and saving their lives; many mothers, however, are guilty of leaving their children in cars during sweltering summer days. We exalt the good Samaritans of the ASPCA, but fail to analyze those who cause a need for the organization’s work in the first place. The symbiosis between one person and the changing world can be a volatile one when the world tells a story that does not correspond with how that individual sees themselves. The Yellow Birds, a novel by ex-soldier and poet Kevin Powers paints the picture of a man who goes through the tug-of-war of being a picturesque soldier as described by the Marines and being a man battling with the psychological conflict that stems from trying to live up to that narrative.

The Yellow Birds seems full of open-ended statements and unfinished prose, but many of those statements are often some of the most profound within the book. Those short, small pieces of thought from Bartle make the book that much more personal. One quote that stuck out during reading was “I might realize that to understand the world, one’s place in it, is to be always at the risk of drowning.” The obvious follow-up question is drowning in what? Drowning in that unequivocally difficult mental battle between the self and the world. On that page, Bartle describes the bloody murder of a helpless man by him and two of his fellow marines. A gruesome picture was painted of that murder, ruthless and unmerciful. That page is not one of the stories often told of American troops. Troops return home with invisible capes as heroes, their backs embellished with a bold-face “H.” However, Bartle seems to consistently and truly understand not only that what he’s going is a problem, but that finding one’s place in the world could often lead to the generation of confused young men driven by trying to stay afloat with their morals, but being weighted down and drowned by an unwanted paradigm that has been drilled into them. This is also seen when Bartle and his closest friend during the war, Murph, review some mail sent from back home. The war seems to have rendered Murph slightly numb to circumstances that may be troubling for other men.

“We spoke like children. We looked at each other as if into a dim mirror.” “Her other hand on the small of his back. Alive. There was an expression on his face that I have been seen before or since.’  (pp.80-81) In these excerpts, Murph has just read the letter his girlfriend sent him from the States saying they should break up because she’s going to be attending college and moving to one to what she wants to do with their relationship.  Bartle says Murph to the letter well. Sterling tried to contest his nonchalant attitude, Murph seemed to just be okay with everything, mentioning that there’s nothing he could do. That short conversation between Murph and Bartle brought about a new sense of camaraderie between the two of them. Again, those military relationships between soldier and civilian is another strong example of how stories about war are misconstrued and how the hero doesn’t always  come home to the treasures they left behind. At this point, Murph’s world is the war that he’s immersed and saturated in wartime and war feelings (or lack thereof) have crowded hs judgement into the world that lies in wait for him outside of the war. He, at this point, finds that there are more important things for him to worry about other than having someone to call “baby” when he got back to the US. Throughout all of this, Murph is unperturbed to the extent where he almost seems careless and unconcerned with the situation as a whole. The aura of these pages conveys a very raw sense of disconnection between war and everything that surrounds it, but poetry and prose still shine through the writing. This was no accident on the author’s end. In an interview with Foyles, Powers was asked if the “deeply lyrical quality” of his writing was “intended in counterpoint to the rawness of the dialogue.” Powers answered,

“I intended it not just as counterpoint to the rawness of the dialogue, but also to the rawness of the experience. In that respect it is more point than counterpoint. In trying to demonstrate Bartle's mental state, I felt very strongly that the language would have to be prominent” Perhaps this is not a comparison between the self and the changing world and the stern differences therein, but more of an explanation of the symbiosis between those two. The Yellow Birds is a novel entrenched in the idea of the world’s perception of a specific entity- whether that entity is one man, one group, one population, or one idea. Powers found it of the utmost importance that he made the schism between those two things evident in his writing; no book can be classified as just one thing- not just the words on the page, not just the cover illustration, and not the structure of the writing alone- The Yellow Birds is no exception to that rule.

Works Cited:

Powers, Kevin. 4: September 2004 - Al Tafar, Nineveh Province, Iraq. The Yellow Birds. New York: Little, Brown, 2012. 80-81. Print.

Personal Narrative:

“Can anyone tell me what a Credo is?” Mr. Kunkle bellowed from the back of the classroom. People were still dribbling in from lunch, from orchestra practice- from whatever was more important than 8th grade Theology. I was in my seat, pen and paper ready 4 minutes before class even began.

I shot my hand up. Theology wasn’t just Theology. to me- it was Philosophy 101; it seemed I was always playing devil’s advocate for some reason, and that made it all the more tantalizing. Since I’ve been in 8th grade, that position of “table-turner” has always been attractive to me, especially in terms of religion and personal credo. About 3 years ago, my ideas about things that I’d been taught day-in and day-out completely shifted and it was one of the most important shifts of my life.

“Stephanie, wanna tell everyone what a credo is?” Kunkle asked, only half listening to me while preparing his class notes for the day.

“A credo is like a truth. Maybe not fact, but something that you hold to be true for yourself. It’s a statement of your beliefs.”

“Right! Yes, a statement of your beliefs. Like the Apostle’s Creed. Credo is latin for ‘I believe’; it’s what keeps you grounded, where your morals come from, what you go back to when you’re at a crossroads- it’s a creed.”  

I knew all this- at this point, it was old gold mumbo jumbo- the same things I’d been hearing for the past two years. This year, however, I hadn’t grown tired of it. In eighth grade I found myself looking past the orthodox teachings of my school; ‘faith’ wasn’t something that could help me hold fast to the ideals that’d been drilled into my head, no matter how many years I’d been getting spoon-fed. However, that didn’t stop me from doing further research on religion and theology and how my perception of the world was- and is- drastically different from many of my Christian peers.

“So,” Kunkle bellowed out after chatter buzzed amongst the classroom. “It’s time to figure out what you believe. This is not a testimonial, this is an outlined description of your beliefs and why you believe them. It’s important to make this objective and universal, but make sure that it is your own.”

That was my cue. My Credo was 5 pages of a religious potluck. If anything, it was more of a history paper than a statement of my religious beliefs. Above all, it contested every Christian belief that I’d been spoonfed. It included the teachings of Jesus in tandem with those of Mohammed, refuted the entire Old Testament, and upheld Egyptian, Greek, Hindu, and Buddhist deities. It exalted the unity in Islam and contested the morality of Catholicism throughout history in conjunction (or disjunction) with the religion.

When proofreading others’ documents, I saw four or five pages of praise to God accompanied by few facts and little actual knowledge. I saw four or five pages of what our teacher asked for the opposite of. While editing their pieces, I realized that few of them put any actual thought and offered them some enlightenment, but the “education” that we’d been receiving forced any opposing thought out of their minds. I was disgusted by my classmates at first, but realized that the assignment had been titled your “Personal Credo,” and found myself rinsed of my disdain. In 8th grade, I fully understood that, in order to understand someone’s personal truth, I didn’t have to accept it. I turned my assignment in on time, final draft pristine.

“Stephanie, we may need to have a talk about your assignment,” my teacher wrote in red ink on my paper. I got a fantastic grade- 98 and only two points off for a few grammatical errors. Yet, the “talk” we had was about the sacrilegious content. A small talk was conducted in the office with the dean, who was concerned about my “spiritual well being” and I found that he was doing the complete opposite of what I’d learned- he was not understanding what I was saying, nor was he accepting my beliefs. For the rest of my eighth grade year I found side eyes from every student and faculty member, I was kicked off the praise band for what my music teacher essentially saw as blasphemy, and comments made on my report card for the final semester of the year were generally along the lines of “Stephanie is such a wonderful student, but I often find that her mind wandered a bit too much during this marking period,” when my work and work ethic was virtually identical if not improved from the beginning of the year.

During my 8th grade year, I found a personal conviction that was a moshing of convictions from other beliefs and very few of the ones I grew up with. My morals and personal beliefs were untainted in my opinion, but because they varied so drastically from those of my school, I was at fault. Despite this divergence between my personal ideals and those of the school, and despite the backlash I received from it, I didn’t drown under the pressure of a different narrative being more popular than my own.

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Pilar Analytical and Narrative Essay

Pilar Carroll

Air Stream

In the book, The Things They Carried, by Tim O’brien, there were a lot of stories about death, and love, and what war was really like. There are multiple changes that happen in the lives of these soldiers. With each change there was a different reaction. But all the changes showed the reaction that, when the world is changing, one can be affected at the same amount when seeing the change happen, and hearing about the change. However, at times people will not acknowledge change to protect themselves.

Jimmy Cross, the Lieutenant is in love with a girl from his college town, Martha. They write each other letters back and forth, but she never asks him about the war, or about anything going on in his life right now. “In those burned letters Martha Had never mentioned the war, except to say, Jimmy, take care of yourself. She wasn’t involved.” (The Things They Carried 23) Martha didn’t want to get involved in the war, because she knows acting about it would put a traumatic picture in her head. It wasn’t how she wanted to see america, and the army. She didn’t want to have a prime source into the gory stories. And the feel the hurt Jimmy feels.

Dave Jensen, a soldier was suppose to kill a vietnamese soldier, but instead he let him go. Later, the soldiers heard that someone else killed the man, and Jensen was relieved. “Later we heard that Strunk died somewhere over Chu Lai, which seemed to relieve Dave Jensen of an enormous weight.” (Friends.13) Dave Jensen was suppose to kill a vietnamese soldier, but did not for some reason. When Jensen heard that the man was dead, he felt relief. Jensen felt relief because the man was dead, and the relief he felt would be the same if he saw in die. All he wanted was the man dead.  

Someone in the platoon died, gilt was being passed."When a man died, there had to be blame.  Jimmy Cross understood this.  You could blame the war… A moment of carelessness or bad judgment or plain stupidity carried consequences that lasted forever." (In the Field.115) When someone dies, everyone has that feeling of regret, though being responsible is deadly. So trying to pin a death on an event or someone else is common, regardless of being in the moment or hearing about it later, there is always something/someone to blame.

Tim O’brien was speaking in an interview, about how things were in the war, talking about behavior and imagination."It's important because the things we imagine determine our behavior in the future. If you're in medical school and you can't imagine putting your hands into pus and gore and blood, I'd say you're not going to finish med school." (Tim O'Brien) People in situations or hearing about situations, have images in their heads when reflecting on the situation. Like reading a non picture book, the reader images the situations, settings, what characters and scenarios look like. So when hearing about changes, or seeing change, there is that same gory image.

The Things they carried shows a clear view on change, and reactions. The book is showing many different scenarios, of change, and many different reactions, from Martha’s neglect, To Jimmy Crosses’ blame. All proving, when the world is changing, one can be affected at the same amount when seeing the change happen, and hearing about the change. However, at times people will not acknowledge change to protect themselves.

Works Cited for Analytical Essay:

O'Brien, Tim. The Things They Carried: A Work of Fiction. New York: Broadway, 1998. Print.

Sawyer, Scott. "In The Name Of Love." Mars Hill Review, 1998. Web. 10 Jan. 2015.

Narrative Essay:

“Pilar put that down, we don’t have any money.” My mother has a sad look in her eyes. Knowing those words disappointed her more and more. I didn’t notice, I was mad at her. I just wanted my normal life  back. But she couldn’t take her job. Her, not coming home at until nine pm, the long commute to jersey. Her boss is taking credit for every single thing she would do, not even acknowledging she was there. I did the same exact thing. I blocked out every time she would talk to me about her losing her job. That Christmas, I requested a lot. My world is changing, and I refused to let it, or let it seem apparent.

The only income we had was from my father working and he was working every day, not even taking sick days. But I still payed no attention. I was so used to the lifestyle of getting what I wanted. I was never appreciative. And on Christmas when I opened my presents. I gave a noticeable fake smile when I only got a $100 and a few gifts. My cousin ,got a camera, a kindle. Why couldn’t I have what she had? My mother told me it was only temporary, so I treated it as such. My birthday rolled around, still no job, instead of being sympathetic I was mad. My mother was so wrapped up in this business, and volunteering, it wasn’t bringing home the bacon.

I started to accept that this is forever. I still hated it. I refused to act like we had less money. I flaunted how big my house was, how many cars we have, making and my grandparents taking me to Bermuda for the summer was just the icing on the cake to my “lie”. To me I was poor. We couldn’t afford the food I wanted, or the clothes, So I started working for my neighbors, anything I could do. I started thrifting, but not telling anyone. I needed my image. Friends would ask,”Where did you get that?”, when claiming I didn’t remember, I would feel mad at my family for making my life “hard” making me feel embarrassed because we are “poor”.

At the end of my 10th grade year, I turned 16. Finally! I was old enough to get a real job. I was so convinced, my mother was just lazy, not really trying for a job, when over and over again she would get rejected. I only applied to one job: Chill on the Hill Frozen Yogurt in Chestnut Hill. Mother was telling me to apply to more, but why listen to her? Look at her success rate. After a month they called me back, telling me there were no spots. My mom told me but I still refused to get the picture.

In World history class, we were shown a video that has the percentage of people in The United States, and the average income of that group of people. 1% of the USA has more more money than everyone else combined. When I got home I showed my family the video, and my father showed me where we landed on the graphs. I was finally hit with the reality that we were “poor” and when I said that, in utter disappointment, my mother said,” We are not poor.” Look at the children in Africa, And even some kids who live in Philly. Some kids who went to Wissahickon Charter, some were homeless. You live in a house, with heat, and you never miss a meal, you have parents who love you, and will do everything to protect you,” she started to cry,” We are much richer the most people in the US! So when you would pout and scream because you didn’t get the jacket you wanted, that wasn’t us being poor, that was you being spoiled. I busted my ass to give you children everything you wanted, and you just wanted more. The fact I couldn’t take the work anymore was just icing on the cake to teach you all a lesson about what you want and what you need. Most of these kids with the new phones, new clothes, most of their parents can’t even pay the electric bill, so you need to get your priorities straight.”

After that, I finally got it. If I would have stopped to hear what she was saying, and stop being scared about the idea of being poor, I would have realized that we weren't. I would have realized I was being judgmental and selfish to my mother. She was trying as hard as she could to get a job but she realizes that we don’t need that the things we want. And I needed to realize that too, If only I had listened sooner.  


Quarter 2 English Benchmark

Analytical Essay:

Love, hate, courage, and fear - all of these are emotions that a human can feel. When a person is in or going into a war, or even an personal battle, they encounter a plethora of feelings. Shame and embarrassment may be principle emotions that they experience. These negative feelings can be forces that propel a character into discovering their true identity because their reaction pushes them to discover new things about themselves. In the sentimental and intimate book, The Things they Carried by Tim O’Brien, soldiers fighting in the Vietnam war experience shame and embarrassment which pushes them into growth and new discoveries.

At the age of twenty one, Tim O’Brien was just graduating from college, he was Phi Beta Kappa and summa cum laude of his class, and he had a full scholarship for graduate studies at Harvard. Suddenly on a June day, he received a draft notice that would halt the course of his life. So he tried to run away to Canada in order to escape deployment. “Even in my imagination, the shore just 20 yards away, I couldn’t make myself be brave. It had nothing to do with mortality. Embarrassment, that’s all it was. And right then I submitted. I would go to the war. I would kill and maybe die - because I was too embarrassed not to.” (page 59) Because Tim was embarrassed of what people would think of him, he decided to respond to the call of duty in Vietnam. This choice pushed him to figure out his identity, who he truly was. In Vietnam, his learned that he never strongly opposed the war to the point that he wouldn’t go or flee to Canada. He found out that he was a man with feelings. He felt bad about making fun of dead bodies. He also could never forgive himself for killing a man. Ultimately, Tim’s feelings of embarrassment led him to discover new things about himself.

Soldiers are often portrayed as heroic men and brave comrades in movies, stories, and etc. However, Tim O’Brien describes them as men afraid for their lives. “For the most part they carried themselves with poise, a kind of dignity. Now and then, however, there were times of panic, when they squealed or wanted to squeal but couldn’t, when they twitched and made moaning sounds…They would touch their bodies, feeling shame, then quickly hiding it.” (page 19) Usually one would think that soldiers are always brave and heroic. However, they are very scared. When they are afraid in battle, they panic and duck for cover. When peace arises, they are ashamed that they got scared, but they find out that they are still alive, and that is all that matters.

The lieutenant of Tim’s platoon, Jimmy Cross, was not mentally present in the war, even though he was physically in the war. He was present in his imagination with his love, Martha. He would dream about her day and night, longing to be with her. But that all ended when one of his soldiers died because of his negligence. “In part, he was grieving for Ted Lavender, but mostly for Martha and for himself, because she belonged to another world… and because he realized she didn’t love him and never would.” (pg. 17) Lieutenant Cross blamed himself for Ted Lavender’s death because he was so busy fantasizing about Martha. Not only did he feel ashamed and embarrassed that this happened, but he was also felt very sorry and grieved. Because of this he decided to cast Martha out of his mind, which forced him to become a stricter and better lieutenant. On marches he would impose stricter disciple, he would be careful to send out flank security, he would keep them moving at a proper pace and interval, and also would demand the men to clean their weapons. He also accepted the blame for what happened to the soldier that died because of his negligence. Being ashamed helped Lieutenant Cross become a better commander.

In an interview about Tim’s intentions behind the book, he talks about how war is an instant catapult to pressuring a character to change. In a war story, there are life and death stakes built in immediately, which apply just by the framework of the story. There is a pressure on characters that in other kinds of fiction one would have to meticulously build. Some of the pressures that the characters face in war cause them to change. Shame is a pressure that was presented in the book. Many of the soldiers felt shame which caused them to mature and develop into better soldiers and men. For instance, an on field medic, Bobby Jorgenson, was ‘incompetent and sacred’. When Tim O’Brien got shot in a battle, he was too sacred to operate on him. He lay there bleeding and almost dead, while Bobby was staring at him in fear and terror, unable to move. It took him ten minutes to finally touch Tim and when he did, he had already lost a lot of blood. Months later after Tim recuperated and could no longer fight, he saw Bobby again and they talked. Bobby was ashamed, to the point of having nightmares about him lying on the ground. So he deeply apologized for what he did. This shame pushed him to mature and become a better medic. In the future, he got pass his fears and helped keep a soldier, named Morty Phillips, alive.

Shame and embarrassment are often emotions that causes someone to change. They help push a character into development because their reaction allows them to discover new things about themselves. The book, The Things They Carried, perfectly captures a ones development from shame to maturity in the setting of combat.

Works Cited for Analytical Essay:

  • O'Brien, Tim. The Things They Carried: A Work of Fiction. New York: Broadway, 1998. Print.

  • "Tim O'Brien Article #3." N.p., n.d. Web. 12 Jan. 2015. <>.

Narrative Essay:

My heart was pounding. Ba boom. Ba boom. My knees were shaking and violently grinding against each other. Creek, snap. Creek Snap. My lungs were rasping for breath. Heww huu. Heww huu.

When I first started running, it was one of the most traumatic experiences of my life. I was young, dumb (I thought), and slow. Every time I took a step, my feet felt like they were running barefoot on a floor of nails. It felt like someone was stabbing me with a two-edged dagger in my stomach, and my calf muscles felt like they were being viciously ripped away from my bones.

Because of the pain that I suffered, I became too embarrassed to run. I would compare myself to those who were better and more elite than me and notice how they would never feel any pain. I thought that I was some kind of awkward child because my body was so weak and prone to pain. So I wanted to stop running.

“Mrs. Dunda, I want to quit,” I told my coach.

“Why?” She asked.

“Because it’s painful,” I said in frustration.

“I don’t think you should though.”

“Well I am.” I stormed out of the room.

So that was the end of my running career. Everyday when I came home after school, I headed to the refrigerator, grab a ton of food, ate, and sleep until I was full. This routine became a habit. Go home. Head to the refrigerator. Eat. Sleep. l loved doing this everyday because it was a great way for me to calm my nerves after a stressful day at school. After a month of my gluttony, I gained a ton of weight. I would struggle to put my jeans on, my muscles turned into fat tissue, and I always felt tired. That was the point when I really felt embarrassed because I was no longer the small child I used to.

I tried to everything to lose the weight. I would go on Youtube and follow along with workout videos. I tried almost every diet in the book, from the smoothie diet to just eating a bunch of vegetables. Then I resorted to not eating at all. I would starve myself all day until dinner time, where I would just push the food around on my plate. I wanted to be skinny again, but nothing was working. I considered to run again but I was too embarrassed to feel the pain.

A few weeks went by full of depression because I was fat. So I resorted to my last option: running. It was so hard to take that first step but I did. Soon I found out that when everyone starts running, they feel intense pain, however, when you continue to run, your body is conditioning itself and you no longer feel pain. As I kept running, the pain went away. I became so good that I ran a marathon. Then I kept on running, that I ran my second marathon.

All of the embarrassment that I felt lead me to an shameful season of my life, full of wasted time and a lot of gained weight. But my embarrassment pushed me to become a better athlete and accomplish something that most people will never do.


English Benchmark

Analytical Essay:

Gender stereotypes are a straight line that separate boys from girls; this has been engrained in our society at a young age. An example of a gender stereotype would be if a person had to choose between a doll or a matchbox car, the gender stereotype for the girl would be to choose a doll and the boy to chose the car. Gender stereotypes don’t give people a choice to pick the toy that they would want to play with. A boy would have to play with the matchbox car because playing with the doll is a sign of weakness, and is something that a girl would do, not a boy, because girls are “mommies” and take care of babies. Compared to the past, gender stereotypes have changed, and the mindset of our society is different as well.

In the book “Things they Carried” by Tim O'Brien, Mary Ann comes from America to Vietnam as a sweet seventeen year old girly girl. After living in Vietnam and being around guys with no female role model,  she starts to act more like the boys. This is because she is trying to conform to society’s rules about being social and fitting in with her peers. Since her peers are males, she gradually begins to act more masculine. She also may be acting more this way so the guys don’t perceive her as being weak. Yet, society also makes us conform to gender roles that shape us in the way that other people perceive others. Mary ann doesn’t have a female role model that helped her so she found a male role model to look up to and it changed her behavior from feminine to more masculine.

In Tim O’Brian’s book, the era was different than it is today. This can be seen from this quote on page 90 where the male soldiers say this about Mary Ann:

“I swear to God, man, she's got on culottes. White culottes and this sexy pink sweater. There she is." "No lie," he muttered. "Culottes."”   

During that time, the guys were surprised to see a girl wearing “pants”, as most women only wore skirts and dresses, because that was the stereotype of how females should look and dress.. A girl wearing “culottes” was seen as dressing like a man, and she was noticed and judged for that. But since she didn’t have any female role models and was trying to protect herself, Mary Ann dressed more like the males and broke out of the stereotype.  Another description of Mary Ann’s changing gender stereotypes appears on pg.98, which describes more changes that Mary Ann began to experience:  “Other things, too. The way she quickly fell into the habits of the bush. No cosmetics, no fingernail filing. She stopped wearing jewelry, cut her hair short and wrapped it in a dark green bandanna. Hygiene became a matter of small consequence.”  Mary Ann’s environment started changing her right in the beginning because she is adapting to her environment .She is leaving behind all the things that used to be important to her as a girl, and burying it.  

Mary Ann is breaking society’s rules. and this is highlighting that at that time, there really was an issue with the way men thought of woman and how gender roles are applied. The example from Pg   “You got these blinders on about women. How gentle and peaceful they are. All that crap about how if we had a (GIRL) for president there wouldn't be no more wars. Pure garbage. You got to get rid of that sexist attitude."  Men in that era stereotyped woman, thinking that they can’t be stronger than a man. Basically, women were considered weak and unable to act like a man  or do what men do in any way. This quote shows that there was a changing mindset about women, showing that maybe they could not be emotional about problems like war, and maybe behave the same as men. This shows that the stereotypes about gender roles were changing and that women may be looked at as leaders.

In an interview that Tim O'brien talked about the book.

DB: It's interesting that in "Sweetheart of the Song Tra Bong" a woman actually comes from America to Vietnam.

O'Brien: Right, that story is an example of a woman's presence, but this is striking only because women are so rare. The story's also one of the few cases in the book that is based on reality. A woman did in fact come to Vietnam, an ex-cheerleader, just out of high school, pretty much as I described it. But the rest of the story I invented. I had fun doing it.”

The interview stated that the story about Mary Ann was made up, except for coming into the war. This is just proving that the world is changing and that the mindsets are changing as well. --- NEED MORE..

In conclusion, as shown in Tim O’Brien’s book, the concept of gender roles is a complex issue. and can be influenced by environment, culture, and change. But every day the issue gets smaller and smaller. as the world is becoming  more lenient and the gender stereotypes are not as strong as they used to be. That line is becoming more fluid between men and women.

Works Cited for Analytical Essay:

O'Brien, Tim' The Things They Carried. New York: H, 1990. Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. Web.

"The Things They Carried." Google Books. N.p., n.d. Web. 14 Jan. 2015.

Narrative Essay:

Up in the trees, I could see the world. I was in my own world, nothing else mattered.  My mother came out the door and started yelling at me to get out of the tree.

“You are going to ruin your new dress, Carolyn! Get down NOW!” she yelled.

“ But mom… I don’t even like wearing dresses why do I have to wear them?” I said.

I jumped out of the 10 foot tree. My mother yelled at me after because what I did was reckless and I could have broken something. But I wasn’t scared of anything. My mother is a very nice woman but she didn’t like to be buying new dresses because I get stains she can’t get out. At the ripe old  age of 7, I was an adventurous child, I still am!

I was not a typical girl like all my friends from school. I didn’t like to wear dresses and I didn’t like to paint my nails and get all dolled up. I loved to be outside, in the trees and go into the field that was behind my garage and play baseball with the guys. I was a tomboy and I loved being one. My best friend was a guy, his name was Sean. We would do all the stuff that girls  shouldn’t do like. have a mud fight in the backyard and ruin the grass that my father worked hard on.

          I really couldn’t get along with the girls at my school because they were so boring - all they talked about was clothes and their American Girl dolls. One day at school, I went to talk to the girls. They were talking about how one of the girls likes to play fetch with her puppy. “Ew that’s so gross! All that dirt!”, one of the girls said.

“I play baseball and my best friend Sean and I had a giant mud fight in my backyard! It was so fun! So a little dirt never hurt anyone! “ I said.

“Girls don’t like to play in the mud or play baseball.. That’s what boys do,
one of the girls said.

“Why?” I said.

“I don’t know, that’s just what my mom said,” the girl said.

At the age of 10. I started to become a more “girly girl” because I wanted to fit in now that I was in my double digits. I had to act more adult! One day my mother was putting on makeup.  I asked her “Why do you draw on your face, Mom?” She responded in a calm voice, “I’m just putting on makeup. It’s what women do!” Now of course, I wanted to be more of a grownup woman,  and I did hear the girls talk about how they weren't aloud to wear makeup to school. The next morning, I raided my mother’s makeup stash.  I had no idea what to do or how to even apply it. I saw the blush and since I saw my mother putting some on the previous day. I knew it went on cheeks, so I put some on mine. Correction, I put a lot on mine! My mom walked into the bathroom and saw my face.

“ What are you doing, Carolyn?” She said in a stern voice.  

“I want to show how cool to the other kids that I’m wearing makeup!” I said.

“Here, take this off, you put on way too much red blush! I’ll do your makeup.” She said.

I walked into school feeling all cool, by having makeup on. All the girls were talking in the reading corner and I walked up to them.

“ Omg, are you wearing makeup?” one of the girls said.

“Yes.” I said, all confident.

“That’s so cool. My mom won’t let me wear any.” she said.

“My mom actually gave me some -  would you girls like to try it?” I said.

From that day forward, I fit more into that group. I also got some of the girls to play baseball with me even if It is a boy thing! So  I learned that I can still like both guy and girl things, and that was fine.

As I got older, I learned that gender roles are more about who you are, what you like, who is in your environment and how you adapt to that. Yet, who says we have to adapt? I am still that adventurous girl who loves the outdoors! I also like all the girly stuff too, like wearing dresses and painting my nails. Society expects us to be a certain way and I say who cares! Who cares what people think of you because in the end, it’s what you think of yourself.

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The things they carried essay's

Analytical Essay:

The men that go off and face war have not changed from back then to modern day today. They not only face different battles because of new technology, yet they all still love and breathe the same way. It needs to be acknowledged that love never changes and all forms of love are constant throughout life. Love always seemed to be the safety net to our leap of faith with partners in a relationship. Having that scenario play out may seem different... love might have the outer shell of being different but overall in the end, going back to the basics. It is the same as it always has been.

This scene is in the intro and is Jimmy cross giving an explanation of why he has the photographs. He goes into depth of how his love is consistent with Martha. He talks about how he thinks about her all the time. He can’t get her out of his mind. He explains the definition of “humping photographs” which means to carry the pictures around. “Almost everyone humped photographs. In his wallet, Lieutenant cross carried two photographs of Martha. At night, sometimes, lieutenant cross wondered who had taken the picture, because he loved her so much and because he could see the shadow of the picture taker spreading out against the brick wall.” (pg. 4) This whole quote is an example of the love that Jimmy cross felt for Martha as he was in the vietnam war. This is something that many soldiers did at the time. They felt that they needed to focus on love as they were over in battle. It may be seen as an odd thing to do but it is perfectly reasonable and it is needed to focus on the idea of love, not whether or not it is creepy but that it is their way to survive the war and their way of just being humans. Soldiers try to survive any way possible and this is one of the ways that they are able to. Soldiers back then all the way up to current day still use this technique. It makes them feel alive when they are in a desolate place. Love may vary for who loves who, love may vary for whether its successful or not, but love never changes. Whether love is successful or not doesn't mean where and how long they went out for. It means whether they stuck together, through thick and then for each other. A successful relationship is one that is faithful and pure.

Jimmy Cross is time flashing forward into the future. Jimmy cross is talking to Tim O’brien, and he is admitting that he still loves her even after the war. “They’d run into each other, he said, at a college reunion in 1979. Nothing had changed. He still loved her. For eight or nine hours, he told him, they spent most of their time together. There was a banquet and then a dance and then afterward they took a walk across the campus and talked about their lives. “ (pg. 28.) This is a case of love never failing. Even sometimes after the war soldiers will continue their love. Love is strange in the sense that people can pick it up almost anywhere. People tend to automatically lean to hatred so when love comes along, they try and grasp it for all their might. Other’s try and deny love.  Love is all they can rely on when they are told to do the opposite. When people are separated from their loved ones that is the true challenge and test of their faith for each other. It is testing that not only will they stay loyal to each other but it is testing that they will keep interest in each other. Again, it makes them feel human. Love is an instinct for every person and it is in our DNA to love.

Lieutenant cross in this quote, is off in another world. He is stationed in vietnam, but his mind is afar, thinking about Martha. “Lieutenant Cross gazed at the tunnel. But he was not there. He was buried with Martha under the white sand at the jersey shore. They were pressed together, and the pebble in his mouth was her tongue.” (pg. 12) This is another example of Lieutenant Cross being faced with the struggle of not being able to be with his “girl”. He is doing whatever he can to think of Martha. He was picturing himself with her and a pebble as martha’s tongue to stimulate the emotion of actually being with her. But this is also a good example of how love stays constant. He loved Martha with a deep passion and he loved her so deeply that he put a pebble in his mouth just to feel like he was with her. He represented the love that he created in his mind around her completely with just one pebble. The ironic thing about love is that love doesn’t just come out of anywhere either. It has to be based off of something. There needs to be a spark to light the fuse. And with Martha there was no spark, but the spark that lit Cross’ fuse was when he touched Martha’s leg in their so called date.

Love has always stayed constant throughout life. It is the people who translate it into different scenarios. It is them being afraid of facing love. They are not ready for love. It is something that they are cowering from. In the things they carried, Martha is the one that is cowering from love and Lieutenant Cross is embracing it. Love is sure as hell not a piece of cake, but it isn’t that difficult to achieve. Love comes naturally. All it takes is a little bit of effort from both parties. Love is not something that can just fade out. It has it’s ups and downs but stays pure throughout the end. Lieutenant stayed faithful to Martha (even though they weren’t “together”). He kept his promise and he was able to focus on her and her alone.

Works Cited for Analytical Essay:

Narrative Essay:

Love was never something I experienced as I was growing up. Don’t get me wrong, my parents are the most loving parents(most of the time) you could get, but when you’re a short chubby blonde kid, nobody wants be “boyfriend and girlfriend” with you. I never understood just even close to what the general idea of love. I realized in 9th grade that the idea of love is not just a specific idea. Or at least at the time, i thought love was just a bunch of crazy awesome ideas mashed into one. I lived about a year under the impression of this. And then Anna Sugrue said something to me in a conversation we were having about love. Somehow the conversation lead into the necessities of love and thats when she told me her definition of love. “Love is a complex theory. I compare love to how i love a family member of mine. If one of these family members were to die, I would be absolutely devastated and would want to die. Now of course, if the person I “loved” died, i would be disappointed and sad but only could I say I loved them if I could not love without them. If they were to die so shall I.” After she said this, I pondered over it for the next couple of days. I was honestly dumbfounded. I knew she was right, she had completely stumped me. I had said it in a previous relationship and I knew right away that I didn’t mean it. Of course I thought I meant it, but my heart didn’t mean it. It was at this point did I realize that there is a fine line between liking somebody, and loving them. In this essence, love is always constant in whether love is present or not.

As a child of divorce and remarriage I have seen love die and then form again. My parents became separated on january 11th, 2001. My parents were together for 11 years and married for 4 and a half years. When they separated, I was 3 years of age. I don’t really remember much of the separation but I remember going back and forth from house to house. At that time, and still currently, I live my life around going back and forth. My life schedule revolves around every other week. I automatically had two of everything. A common misconception that I have heard from first hand experience is that divorce is good because of getting two of everything. “You get two birthday’s, two christmas’, etc..”(-Serge) This statement needs to be put to rest. Man is not meant to go through divorce and separation. Man is supposed to be with their spouse through death after marriage. As a christian, I believe that the bond between a man and his wife is something eternal. It is not something that you can just leave and not still be attached to. I do not believe in divorce. I have realized that when you are a child of divorce you grow up in 4 different states of minds, two of which can collaborate with each other. “The lack of attention due to the divorce. 2. Too much attention due to the divorce. 3. Growing up in the state of mind that they have to keep people at arms length. 4 And the last one is to feel that they have no love and constantly have to fill that void.” I realized these state of minds when I was in 9th grade and ever since then i have tried watching kids through divorce and separation and see how they cope with it. I started to notice these state of minds because they were state of minds that I had previously lived my life through.

One of my ex’s lives through number’s 1 and 4. Though her parents are not divorced she is adopted and I noticed that through just that she started to live in that state of mind. This also affects your relationships as well. This affects your entire life. It is how you communicate to people. When we were in a relationship I noticed that she dove in right away. She is not the easiest person to be friends with because of the fact that she is always looking for love, she will end up cheating too find love from anybody that is willing to give her love, and to rehash old drama to get more attention which she would then convert to love.

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The Yellow Birds BM

Analytical Essay:

No one ever stays the same. With people, it is common find that they are different depending on their years; someone aged 12 will be different than 22 or very different than 42 and even more different at 82. Aside from genetics, much of this comes through circumstance and change resulting around them. Some of this results in more worldly circumstances, like a leader in rights movement, others is more personal, like becoming  mature after becoming a parent. In the book “The Yellow Birds” by Kevin Powers it’s main character, Private Bartle, specifically dramatic changes as the result of his circumstances. Thoughtout the book, the author demonstrates that one’s self will either adjust to the changing world; or it will not, the former of which will be easier than the later.  

In the Book “The Yellow Birds,” Bartle begins to recant his decision to join the army, remembering when he was bullied; “Pushed you around in the cafeteria,... because you liked reading books and poems… they’d call you fag.”(Pg. 145) This circumstance in Bartle's life, caused a big shift in his identity to show his manliness, and begins to set in motion the entire book. So his identity would forever be altered by this change in his world.

Kevin Powers later shows the change war has on people with the, self explanatory saying from Private Murph, with the thoughts from Private Bartle, “Holy shit, that bitch got murdered.” Murph said. There was no grief, or anguish, or pity in that statement.” (Pg.22) In sections that showed who Private Murph, demonstrated he was more on the sensitive side, who even kept a token of his old girlfriend with him, so to him to such a relaxed attitude to death, especially one so sudden is a bit of a culture shock for the readers. The author has shown this, in order to demonstrate how one needs to adjust to how their world has changed. Bartle and Murph would never have been able to survive as long as they did, or at all had they not trained themselves to see death on such a large and grand scale. And while it would have been hard to adjust to such a grim reality, not doing so would almost certainly have resulted in their death or at least a much more traumatic experience for the soldiers by the fact of having to adjust to such a dark reality in the moments that they lived in them. In this case “Bliss through Ignorance” is a common phrase that fits this situation.

The author also touched on this in an interview about the book, in which he stated “I was interested in trying to describe this state between apprehension and comprehension. That is one of the primary characteristics of the experience of being at war: it's so intense and you don't have time to process.” What the author is saying here is that trying to process it, like previously mentioned, is almost impossible to do, due to the traumatising atmosphere that war breeds and creates. Trying to process what happened in such a chaotic and volatile situation isn’t good for the human mind to take, so the book truly follows in the thesis and “adjusts) to the changing world”, in this case the changing world is the war that they are in and are forced to adjust to this extreme circumstance.

The changing world thesis can be attributed to the the basic theory of evolution- and how those that are able to adapt are also the ones the survive. In the book “The Yellow Birds”  Kevin Powers has shown how changing world and circumstance has affected his characters and the reasoning behind it. Within an individual's lifetime the world will likely change and sift many times, either in political, social or some other kind of feeling many times, as shown in “The Yellow Birds” and demonstrates how important for an individual's lifespan to evolve with the times.

Works Cited for Analytical Essay:

Narrative Essay:

Evolution's a funny thing isn't it? How nature becomes the ultimate judgement on what stays and what leaves. Try try as we might, eventually nature, both outside and; in this case specifically to ourselves chooses what stays and what leaves. Within the past few years I have; evolved so much so that I consider myself almost, if not completely different from the boy I was, even five years ago. Most, if not all of it included changes to my own world, big and small, that would have lasting effects in me.

For a long time I was bullied, because I was perceived as being gay, even though I wasn’t comfortable even thinking about the possibility myself. I had this terrible notion, from what I gathered from being around those classmates, that being gay meant I couldn't be the best of myself, that I couldn’t be the “ultimate me” in a sense. However on one of our last class trips as part of our 8th grade perks, I began to feel sad I would have to say goodbye to a particular classmate. I didn’t know him particularly well, nor did I consider myself to be good friends with him, but I felt a twinge of sadness at the prospect of saying goodbye, more so than many other classmates.

Eventually on the trip I had considered the idea that I might be attracted to him but kept going back and forth on it. Eventually when we got to the restaurant, a Chinese one at that, a received a fortune cookie. And would you have it I received the most, situation appropriate fortune. “In order to get the Rainbow, you have to get through the rain.” And when I saw it I felt as though the fates were whispering, or more accurately screaming at me and through it I felt a wide cocktail of feelings that pointed towards that I might be a little, if not completely gay. To delay the inevitable is to prolong needless suffering, I’ve often found. In this case it was very soon, that I started to accept who I was and it made life easier for myself a lot more than if I had continued to neglect that part of my life.

After coming out i was able to be more open with myself and to others, I felt more risk taking and felt I could connect to people since connecting to myself. I often think of it as if my ribs were broken open and my soul flew free. Allowing myself to be stuck inside of what I had as a pre-notion of my life wouldn’t have been at beneficially to me, instead it ultimately would have been harmful for my mental well being. Adapting to my changing world was unquestionably for the better and am glad I did so.


Self And Changing World BM Angelo Casasanto

Analytical Essay:

The world that in which all of us live in is constantly changing. Take a step back and look at the ways that the whole world strives to be aligned with the latest in technology advancements, and the most recent ideals that even go so far to question the idea of war and death as a part of life. The majority of the world will almost always come up with something that helps them hang on for a while. Humans have such an unquenchable thirst for the newest, most entertaining ideals that they tend to forget about the past or the things that happened to them that really matter.

In the book, The Yellow Birds, war veteran Kevin Powers really brought across his thinking and actions during the war through his writing, which is something no other veteran it seems was able to.  On page eleven of the book the main character, Bartle says,"I was not surprised by the cruelty of my ambivalence back then. Nothing seemed more natural than someone getting killed." When he speaks of this ambivalence he simply means that in the state of war his character was overwhelmed by his surroundings and the seriousness of it all that he began to question his original feelings of being there in the first place. He originally didn’t care for death but as the world around him began to change, he quickly began to rethink his position on death.

Later in the book, after Bartle had been sensitized to war, he saw a lot of death and destruction, and he even watched his good friend die. Afterwards he said the following. "It made me feel fine to be walking alone in the rain that day... I began to feel a kind of calm when I passed the townspeople. I couldn't have placed it then, but now, looking back, there was a peace in the absence of talk." After being on the war front for a while he doesn’t seem to understand that people are actually losing their lives and that his friends and team are the one there causing that damage. When he was put into this new environment he slowly began to change. The old Bartle before the war wouldn’t have found peace in the absence of talk, he would have found the opposite.  

In an interview conducted by in which they interviewed Kevin Powers in realation to his book. In that interview he said, "The most meaningful praise I've gotten is from other vets who've said that I was able to articulate something that they had been feeling for a really long time but hadn't been able to express." The reason that he was able to articulate these feelings that other vets have is he was there just like they were and he understands that although he was stationed there and it was his job, war is a hard thing to handle. And these vets, just like he did, made up emotions or ideals that allowed them to cope with the devastation.

          In conclusion, although veterans and people who never been to war have totally different ideals, it still relates to them because the whole world can think back to a point in their lives when they strived for something other than what they currently think/have. Humans have such an unquenchable thirst for the newest, most entertaining ideals that they tend to forget about the past or the things that happened to them that really matter.

Works Cited for Analytical Essay:

"'Yellow Birds' Author Kevin Powers Talks about Iraq War, Returning Vets."KNS. Knoxnews, n.d. Web. 14 Jan. 2015. <>.

Powers, Kevin. The Yellow Birds: A Novel. New York: Little, Brown, 2012. Print.

Narrative Essay:

In my life there has always been a way for me to drown out the struggles of the real world. Weather it be my family life, school work, friendships and hardships. Technology has been a key factor in this problem. It gives us the opportunity to escape from the real world and immerse ourselves in a cyber paradise that mostly all of us have been to. Just like in The Yellow Birds where Bartle and his co-soldiers escape to a place in their minds where they can accept what is happening to them on another level.

In the year 2008, my father had a stroke. It was very serious, in fact he was in the hospital for almost an entire year due to a brain aneurysm rupture. Now I was young and this was very hard for me to handle. For the first couple months my brothers and I didn’t even know what was going on. Then when we didn’t see dad for a while, and our out of state family started flying in we knew something was wrong. I’ll never forget when my Aunt Linda took me and my older brother out on the front step and said, “Guys, your dad is in the hospital and it doesn’t look like he’s going to make it.” Joe and I looked at each other and couldn’t believe our ears.

For a while I was sad, very sad, I would cry my eyes out at night because I knew that my dad might never come home. This was when I became a really big video game person. The first game I bought after this was the very first Rock Band 2 bundle for the Xbox 360. If it wasn’t for this game, for the entirety of the year 2009 I would have been very depressed. But every time I started thinking of my dad I would just turn the Xbox on and play like 20 songs on the drum kit and then sing a couple, this was the only way I could keep my mind off of my dad. Then he came home after a few more months, the doctors said it was a miracle, he had a 95% chance of dying. It was odd though, when I first saw him after all this I felt like he was never gone to begin with.

Not to make whoever’s reading this pity me but I had a pretty rough childhood. After all that brain aneurysm business, my parents split up. Only 6 months or so after my dad got home. I guess being away from each other for so long killed the love. Anyway when they filed for divorce I was angry. Angry enough to get suspended from school. I fought some kid Alex in sixth grade because he said something about my parents. Then 2010 began the cycle of switching between houses. I hated it. This was around the time that I just started to make friends, I started to make my own life outside of my family. I just couldn't deal with all of the fighting and problems anymore. I met this kid Paul who was going through similar problems with his family and to this day we are still friends. We stuck through it all and I'm still switching houses, which sucks but sometimes in life you don't get a choice and you just have to keep rolling with the changes.

All throughout my childhood life I've had hardships. Some that would make most people insane. But with a little help from my friends, technology, and a positive attitude I got through it all and I'm still trucking.

Self And Changing World BM

Analytical Essay:

War is a dangerous place. It is not only a place of life or death physically but also mentally. As it has been proven time and time again soldiers coming “home” from war are likely to have psychological issues. This is a topic that is talked about a lot in “The Yellow Birds” by Kevin Powers. The main character Bartle struggled immensely with returning home after war. “Home” is in quotation marks because as Bartle says throughout many of the chapters in the book, the home he left from never felt the same when he returned. His world changed the moment he joined and would never be the same.  As the world changes around a person it can be a shock to the system. People deal with this change differently, some may be ready to face their fears and face the change head on. Others that aren’t as ready to face the change seclude themselves so they do not to have to face the reality of their world changing. But the time will come, sooner or later, that they will have to face the change.

Bartle was in his early 20’s when he came back from his tour in Iraq. He had witnessed things that a civilian should never have to witness. When he was deployed he, and others, would often talk about going home and being reunited with love ones. What they didn’t know was how it would feel to be back home. Home was unrecognizable. Everything he had thought about as his home, now seemed to be totally different. “I was disappearing. It was as if I stripped myself away in that darkened bedroom… I would be another number for the cable news shows.”(pg.111) Bartle was going into a new phase in his life he felt as though everything he knew before, he was losing. He felt like he was losing himself. It is interesting how the one thing Bartle and his friends talked about was going home, but now that he was there, he wanted to be anywhere else. Such a big part of what was his entire life was before, was now changing right in front of him but he didn’t feel ready or comfortable with the change.  

Bartle thought on at least one occasion that the life he was now living, at home, wasn’t real. The mindset of being at war had taken over his mind and there was no going back. “The rest is history, they say. Bullshit, I say. It’s imagination or it’s nothing, and must be, because what is created in this world, or made, can be undone, unmade.” (pg. 100) Bartle is mad at the world. He is mad that it’s changing, and even more importantly, his world is changing. His world isn’t changing in a small way either, it is changing in a sever way in which it will never be the world he lived in before he went to the war.

He had gone through many different traumatic incidents but when one of the most traumatic happen his world changed possibly the most. He didn’t handle it well. “By the time autumn came again I was firmly settled in the old gasworks building at the edge of the river. My life was small. I lived in an apartment on an upper floor and had little in the way companionship.” (pg. 177) Bartle feels like he no longer fit in anywhere so he separated himself from everyone. He wanted to run away from the reality of his life. His real life was quickly changing and he felt as though he could not handle it. The best way for him to deal with this was to simply shut it out for as long as possible.

In an interview with the author, Kevin Powers, he said, "The most meaningful praise I've gotten is from other vets who've said that I was able to articulate something that they had been feeling for a really long time but hadn't been able to express." This shows that the author's motivation for writing this book was to articulate something that other soldiers and vets didn't know how to put into words. This gave other veterans a voice that they didn't have before. The story was written as his outlet. It isn’t always necessary for a support system to be a human being but anyway to talk about the feelings bottled up inside.

People deal with changes in the world differently and there are factors that play into the way they handle the situation. Some people that are  in the midst of a change, will introvert themselves and not share what they are going through with anyone. This leads to their emotions being bottled up. People that have found a way to talk about what they are going through usually have a healthier life. People have a different way of going through change, Bartle handled it one way and the author a different way.

Works Cited for Analytical Essay:

Narrative Essay:

Change is scary. When I changed from elementary school to high school, I happened to go with a lot of my friends. For a while I would only hang out with my friends from elementary school because I felt comfortable around them. I had known them for years, they were familiar. We all stuck together, we had planned to do that for the next four years. I would say what we did was common. Not many people branched out at first. I think this helped me a lot. I could get over fear of being in high school and then I would later find new friends and branch out.

Bartle did not do this. He wanted no recollection of what happened abroad and would try his hardest to forget. This meant not getting back together with friends from his platoon. I think if he had gotten together with them it would have made the transition easier, like it did for me and my friends. When you have a support system around you it makes it a lot easier for you to be able to talk and face changes head on and feel more comfortable about who you are and the situation you are in. When you surround yourself with people that understand what you are going through they can not only be there for you but you can also be there for them. It makes the change easier to get through and less painful when you can talk about it.

My grandfather has been in a wheelchair my entire life. When I was little I didn’t like how much attention would be brought on me when I was out with him. I felt like everyone was looking at me, my solution was to hide. I would hide behind coat racks, my mom, anything I could find. Since he lives in England I didn’t ever have time to get used to it, by the time I would get any less uncomfortable, we would be coming home. It wasn’t until I became much more sure of myself that I was comfortable with others staring at us as when we were out. I realized that the most important thing was to have self confidence. When Bartle came home he was uncomfortable with himself, which made him want to hide. He became introverted and didn’t want to be around others.

Going to my Grandfather’s house was always like going to a new land, everything seemed to be new. I felt uncomfortable and didn’t know how to handle it. I, much like Bartle, handled my discomfort internally. I was uncomfortable with being somewhere new, Bartle wasn’t somewhere new, he was in the place he grew up the same place he had spent so much of his life. But to him it wasn’t old it was a whole new place with because he changed, he wasn’t the same. He wasn’t comfortable with what he had become into.

I was 12 when my step father moved in with my mom and I. It was the biggest change I have ever encountered. It had been my mom and I since I was 6 months old and I wasn’t ready for that to change. I felt like he was invading my world. My step dad is a really nice person, but he was a major change in my world. I couldn’t talk to my mom about it because she would think I was just being mean. I kept it all to myself and it felt like at any moment I might explode.

Nothing is ever the same after the life change. The thing that distinguishes people is how they deal with it. For me in different situation I react differently. Bartle bottled his up all of the time and the author wrote all of his feelings in a book. There may not be a clear idea at the time of what to do but if you talk about what you are going through it will have a positive effect on your physical and mental health.


The Yellow Birds BM Essay

Analytical Essay:

War is a touchy subject to talk about, being that many people won’t be able to understand those who’ve been put through the experience. Soldiers come home to tell stories of some the horrible things they’ve faced while deployed. In the book, “The Yellow Birds” by Kevin Powers, it follows a man and his experience with the war. He’s moved around a lot to different surroundings throughout the book. It’s based on a true story about the author. One theme that was incorporated often, was soldiers and their struggles with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD). Being exposed to scenarios you wouldn’t encounter on a normal day, everyday in war can take a toll on their mental health. One can only be comfortable in a setting that is familiar to them. Change is something that has to be taken slowly in order to adapt. When introduced to rapid change, it can leave people vulnerable and exposed due to the delay of behavioral changes.

Bartle, the main character, and Murph, his closest friend in the troop, are put into multiple situations where their surroundings are not what they’re used to. Towards the end of the book, the troop are to be heading back to the states, leaving behind the war. Murph gets into in mindset of being back home too early, leaving him vulnerable and an easy target. One thing they’re told not to do is travel back to the states in their heads, meaning not to get too comfortable or relaxed. They’re supposed to be on guard at all times until their feet hits American soil. On page 168, Bartle and Murph were walking outside a medic unit, when they were suddenly ambushed by the enemy. They ducked for cover, having to figure out what to do. Going from off guard to back on guard with in a few seconds left Bartle with "limbs of unset jelly".

Injuries are something that most people remember. Death is something that everyone remembers. At the beginning of the book when the troop first gets to Al Tafar, they are in formation, prepared for attacks from the enemy. When a car came speeding into the area, they shot it up, knowing that there were people in the car. As they were shooting, Bartle had stopped and realize what just happened. Quoted from page 21, Bartle “wanted to tell everyone to stop shooting at him, to ask “What kind of men are we?”...who did it”. This was the first time he had killed someone before. Going from an innocent person to having to kill someone to save himself left his shock.

Kevin Powers’ idea of using the taboo of the dark part of human experiences come from his comfort level of the topic. In an interview with  The Guardian, he stated that he “always had a certain level of comfort with the dark part of human experience” . Powers chose to put the taboo of dark human experiences into the book to show how it affects a person. Instead of avoiding the subject, he used it as a way of justification to show what causes people to do certain actions and how they deal with the consequences. With the topic of PTSD and this fused, it creates a possible justification for behavioral changes after the war, possibly even allowing the behavior to be dismissive, due to the case of PTSD.

Relieving the experiences soldiers have had can be painful for them, but it’s possible that it acknowledging the subject could cause them to grow comfortable with the situation. If they constantly expose themselves those experiences, it grows from being a taboo subject. It is still considered a taboo due to avoidance of recognition on the subject. As long as they keep it unfamiliar, meaning they to forget and pretend it didn’t happen, the ore of a taboo it comes. Though it shouldn’t be rushed, becoming familiar with something is what makes a person comfortable around it.

Works Cited for Analytical Essay:

  1. Powers, Kevin. The Yellow Birds. Little, Brown, 2012. Print.

  2. "Meet the Author: Kevin Powers." The Guardian. Ed. Tim Lewis. 23 June 2013. Web. 12 Jan. 2015.

Narrative Essay:

I grew up a strange kid. I’ve always had an overly active imagination, leading to tons of imaginary friends. I did have real life friends, but they were never the type of friends who could take me on the calming adventure that my imaginary friends could. At this point, someone would probably call me mental, but I found that creating scenarios that I was able to control allowed me to feel better. Since I could control what was happening, I was able to make things go how I wanted them too, even if they were the most outrageous thing ever. I still do have moments where I’m actively doing something while “talking to myself”. I say that in quote because from the outside it appears as so. Really it’s my mind putting so much thought into the fantasy, I begin to peak out loud. Once walking home from the bus by myself at night, I had imagined myself as a merman, because of my obsession with mermaids, and I was at the beach laying in the sand, when someone got swept out by a rip current. Of course, I run into the water, gaining my tail in a few seconds , got the person close to land, then went to dry off in a private place.

It can be a tough transition into a new place, or even lifestyle. I can’t describe what it would be like to go from being a everyday civilian to harming everyday civilian to protect yourself. Between deployment and returning home, Bartle is put in a position where his mind and body must react fast to cope. Moving to my new house a few years reminds of the same situation. New people, new surrounds, and overall new lifestyle. Living in Center City and living in the cross section of Southwest Philly, West Philly, and University City, are two totally different lifestyles. It’s been nearly 9 years I’ve been in my current house and I still feel like I’m not able to go a day without constantly being on guard.

I remember that morning we all were packing up boxes of belongings and moving our beds down the stairs. I don’t remember the date exactly, somewhere between February 6th and 8th 2006. It was cool day, grey a sky overhead. The U-haul come late morning-early afternoon to load up. After dealing with a few problems, we took the trip between the 2 homes. I was leaving behind the house I grew up in. It was my family’s house, so my grandmother, aunts, and cousins stayed there. It was a unique house, much unlike the others. It was a 3-story, pink house, with an attached alley to the right. Being that it was in Center City, a block south of South street, I was lucky to be able to just walk around in a pretty big neighborhood. My new house was the opposite of that. It was a smaller 2 story house with 2 bedrooms, half of what I grew up with. Unlike my old house, there was bushes and a lawn in the front. Looking around, all the houses were identical, only proving different by the stairs and door color.

Where I used to live, there were 3 kids on the other end of my block, so I never actually had people to play with. The kids on my new block had come off nice, but as time went on, I came to the realization that they were bad people. Causing trouble and messing with people was their idea of funny. They had no respect to people and their property, which left me conflicted because of me growing up in a respectful manner. It took 3 weeks being there before for my brother got into fights. Some of those fights were to protect me, which scared me. From then on, I watched what I said and did. It was uncomfortable to be outside. It sounds weird to hear that I have to cautious in what I do to be comfortable. I can’t be comfortable just being carefree now, if I spent 9 years of my life censoring myself from the people and things around me.

Quater 3 - Change The World Project

Analytical Essay:

As life goes one you learn to adapt to your surroundings. Only you determine your future, based by the actions an individual takes to focus on what is in the present to look forward and improve for a better future. The challenges you face in the long run will be worth the effort. In the book “The Things They Carried” Tim O’Brien has a series of characters that go through the process of self change. This is expressed with two characters by the name of Dave Jensen and Lee Strunk.

“ Dave Jensen and Lee Strunk did not become instant buddies but they learn to trust each other “. When Dave & Lee are just settling into an unfamiliar environment for the very first time both men are distant to each other. In the Chapter “Enemies “ they had got into a fistfight, over a missing jackknife. It became a brutal one, because Dave Jensen was a way bigger man he had an advantage. He punched Lee Strunk’s nose until you heard it snapped like a firecracker and broke.  “ Over the next month they often teamed up on ambushes.” Dave Jensen & Lee Strunk were distant to unknown resources they had surrounding them. For the first time they would have to rely on someone other than themselves to operate in combat. Gaining each others trust would be a major key of compromise.

“In late August they made a pact that of one of them should ever get totally f*cked--a wheelchair wound -- the other guy would automatically find a way to end it”  In a way this is a test to their relationship, to have the word of trust . As a friend it is the individual’s position  to respect the wishes and the opinions of each other. For such an individual may say things that at the moment one would desire to hear emotionally. Yet until the individual is put into a situation where the pact one thought was just for emotional support trust. The same promise that an individual thought would not have to phase at such unexpected timing, requires rational reflection. Immediately becomes making a decision between life or death.

While in combat Lee Strunk had gotten shot in the legs . His legs were amputated from the knee down. In and out of consciousness Lee Strunk frantically talks to Jensen.

“ I’m serious “

“ But you gotta promise. Swear it to me -- swear you won’t kill me “

Jensen nodded and said , “ I swear “, and then a little later we carried Strunk off to the chopper. At the moment the pact was no longer a sense of emotional trust. It became a physically action that was determined yet, suddenly declined then you are put into the situation of taking what you agreed on serious.  

“Jensen reach out reached out and touched the good leg. “ Go on    now, “ he said. Later we heard that Strunk had died somewhere Chu Lai, which seemed  to relieve Dave Jensen of an enormous  weight. “ In a way he felt the guilt of not following their pact. However at the same time he was grateful that he didn’t have to bear the burden of potentially having to kill his best friend. I feel as though neither Dave nor Lee expected to have to face that moment of putting one out of their misery as fast as it happened. At the moment the pact was a sense of emotional trust. Until it physically happened then you are put into the situation of taking what you agreed on serious.

In order to change the world, an individual has to start the process of change within themselves first. Being able to adjust to a different environment that you are not used to is a way of change. From one change to another, someone can evolve into a improved person, because the certain adjustments they make to do their routine in a new way.

Works Cited for Analytical Essay:

O'Brien, Tim' The Things They Carried. New York: H, 1990. Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. Web.

"The Things They Carried." Google Books. N.p., n.d. Web. 14 Jan. 2015.

Narrative Essay:

When you’re introduced to the transition phase from elementary school to middle school, then middle school to high school you notice an immediate change. You are surrounded into a brand new environment with people you are just meeting for the first time, you tend to automatically shut people out because you are unknown of whether they have negative or positive intentions for you. The day is almost over and I am in such anticipation in going home. You watch the clock as the big hand moves towards 3 o’clock. You walk into the hallway hoping no one runs you over and knock you down. You look down so you don’t make eye contact so you won’t attract attention towards yourself.

That night as you sit at the dinner table your Mom and Dad bombard you with a variety of questions. “Who’s your teacher?”, “What classes do you have?”, did you see somebody you recognize about things and people you don’t ever have a clue to who they are. You lay in bed exhausted because all day you’ve been given directions and asked to do this or that.

The second day isn’t any better, as the day goes by little by little you begin to wonder who are the classmates that surround you. As you try to remember their name to ask them a series of questions like , what’s their  favorite hobby, if they have siblings. You take a leap of faith and decide open up about yourself to your classmates. Starting off small, just little fun facts like you favorite color your school .

The moment you recognize a familiar face but can’t remember where. The teacher says

her name and it clicked, a mutual friend. You approach her with so many questions about people you would think she would know about. At first you can tell she is weirded out because she doesn’t even remember you. Yet and still you stand there hoping she knows who you are talking about. The elephant in the room disappears and you meet with smiles and laughter as you discuss how who knows who from where. You develop a close bond with her, as if she knew you all along. The teacher gives you your roster, noticing that you and her have all the same classes but two. Already you plan the year out hoping you too still are friends by then.

You think to yourself how could two different personalities share such same interest. Three months has gone by, you’re still learning your roster and what class is where. You’re relieved because  you have you friend who is always there to keep you on track. You’ve built a buddy system for each other. Your were the dynamite duo, whenever  you see one you see the other. If one of y’all were absent the class would know who to ask! You complain how hard school is when you forget that at the time you were only a freshman. And that you could not make it without your close friend.

In the end of the year you get life changing news. You think the world is coming to an end, your best friend is transferring to a different school. At first you thought it was just a practical joke. It all became surreal by the end of the year. You start thinking you are losing the one closest person you have at school. You spend everyday with, goof around in class with and even go home together with. You promise to never forget each other no matter what . The summer becomes to an end and you think she’s forgotten about you.

What you thought was a permanent goodbye turned out to be a new beginning of a even stronger friendship. You got a surprised called from her the first day off school. Turns out that her school is only right around the corner from where you live. SO you’ll be able to see each other often. When you get to school you get asked the same question “How do you feel without her”, “Do you miss her” and “what if she forgets about you”  You got a surprised called from her the first day off school. A sign that she hasn’t forgotten about you. From there you text, call and face time each other everyday. You switch roles, instead of you going over her house she comes over yours. As you grow older you experience what it is to be a teenager together. You always have her to talk to even if she’s a phone call away. But lucky I see her just about every weekend. We mature and grow with each other to succeed the highest achievements in life .


Changing World Project

Analytical Essay:

Running and hiding are figurative and literal things people do when they see their worlds changing. People don’t like to experience new things that they aren’t comfortable with, or not knowing what is going to happen. A lot of times change can be good, but the fear of not knowing where that change will lead you makes change scary. Sometimes change can be life altering. “The Things They Carried” by Tim O’brien is a great example of people experiencing change and how it has affected them. Change is inevitable and in many cases can be scary. The fear of the unknown makes people not want to experience the change.

The main Character of the book, Tim O’brien, lived in Minnesota where he spent his summer working in a meatpacking plant. He would work there all day then drive around during the night time. One day he came home to a draft notice in the mail. He states, “The draft notice arrived on June 17th, 1968...I remember opening up the letter, scanning the first few lines, feeling the blood go thick behind my eyes. I remember a sound in my head. “(42) He talks about what it was like when he found out that this new thing was going to be happening in his life. It was so scary for him, and he didn’t know how to deal with it. It was a huge change, he would be going to a war that he didn’t believe in, and that he could possibly die from. He faced the decision of either fleeing the country, or staying there until he had to leave for the Vietnam War. Now it is a choice of people if they want to go into a war like this, unless there aren’t enough volunteers, but during the Vietnam War there was a draft, and he didn’t have a choice on whether he wanted to go or not.  Readers can understand how scary this would be to receive a letter like this. In war, it is a daily fight for ones life.

Tim feels like nobody understands what this war is about, and would sometimes start big arguments with people over the anger he had inside him. They were sending him off to war yet they didn’t really understand the war themselves. He says “I was bitter, sure. But it was so much more than that. The emotions went from outrage to terror to bewilderment to guilt to sorrow and then back again to outrage. I felt sickness inside me. Real disease.” (45/46) He didn’t like that he was going somewhere that nobody knew anything about. They didn’t understand him and what he was going through. He was mad. He was going through all of these feelings because of this change that he was so scared of. He didn’t know what would happen to him, just like nobody really knows, so it was making him nervous. People who have not experienced war, don’t understand it. He didn’t understand what he was getting in to. The fear was making him start these arguments with people because he felt like he was going through this alone.

After receiving the draft letter, O’brien had a hard decision to make: Flee to Canada, or stay and go to War. O’brien decides to go, but later decides to come back. On his way there, he states,  “I headed up the rainy river, which separates Minnesota from Canada, and which for me separated one life from another.” (47) Tim going to Canada is deciding whether he goes to war or not. If he flees, they won’t be able to find him and take him away. He knows this and he knows that he doesn’t want to change his life. The author of the book, Tim O’brien, is trying to tell the readers that he was scared. He feared what was going to be so new to him. This decision is life altering, and he doesn’t know what to expect either way he goes. He states that this separates one life from another, which is very true. On one side, he will be fighting for his life, and seeing so much death, but on the other hand he is leaving and having to start a new life over. Both are big changes, but one is much bigger than the other.

Tim has been in many interviews since the writing of his book. He talks about what it was like when he first received the letter.  ''I went to my room in the basement and started pounding the typewriter,'' he recalled. ''I did it all summer. It was the most terrible summer of my life, worse than being in the war. My conscience kept telling me not to go, but my whole upbringing told me I had to. That horrible summer made me a writer. I don't know what I wrote. I've still got it, reams of it, but I'm not willing to look at it. It was just stuff - bitter, bitter stuff, and it's probably full of self-pity. But that was the beginning.'' ("A storyteller for the war that won't end"). Tim talks about when he first got the draft notice. He didn’t know what to do and it was all he could think about. He talks about how he was having an internal conflict between his conscience and everything he believes in from growing up. He was scared yet felt he had to do it. He was scared for his entire life to change. He talks about it as it is a good thing, that having this struggle made him a much writer and he was more able to express his feelings. Even though, that is not the first thing that comes to mind when thinking about going to war and writing about it, there were some good things that came out of it. Writing helped O’brien cope with this change a little more, and changed his perspective on the war.

Change is inevitable and in many cases can appear scary. The fear of the unknown makes people not want to experience the change. When there is a change people are going into something that they might not be very comfortable with, something, that in very many situations it is out of their comfort zone. It takes time to adjust to something new in a persons life.

Works Cited for Analytical Essay:

  1. O'brien, Tim. "A Storyteller for the War That Won't End." Interview by D.J.R Bruckner. The New York Times. N.p., 3 Apr. 1990. Web. 10 Jan. 2015. <>.

  2. O'Brien, Tim. The Things They Carried: A Work of Fiction. New York: Broadway, 1998. Print.

Narrative Essay:

You will be going to a new school this year.”

“But why?”

It is more affordable and a lot easier.”

I remember it was going into my fifth grade year. I felt like my world was crumbling down. At this point in my life, I had been experiencing so much change in different areas that I just couldn’t deal with anymore. My parents were separating, I was moving to a new house, and now this. I didn’t know what to expect walking into a new school. It was all I could think about all summer. Right before the school year started I knew I wasn’t ready for this change. It was like starting all over again. I didn’t want to have to make new friends and go in to a new environment that I wasn’t used to. I honestly thought I was going to be the only new one at school and I would be the odd one out.

The school that I came from was a very small school with not much diversity. It was a great school, but it was nothing different since I had gone there since pre-k. It was a very colorful and interesting school. It was so much different than the school that I transferred to. My new school, was a lot more structured. The classrooms were all made of this bland, brown color. It was almost like they picked the most boring color they could find. The school was a lot more diverse in the types of students they had, which was a very good part of the move. None of the teachers really had a life to them, they were all so stern, and there we so many rules. I now understand why everything was this way, but coming in as a fifth grader, I just saw something that I didn’t like.

I remember being so nervous when I walked in. I have a very shy personality, and I knew that I wasn’t going to talk to anybody, being the new girl. When I got there I realized that there were actually a lot of new students, and one of them I became very good friends with. Some of the kids at my new school were very friendly and made me feel so comfortable while others just stared at me and made me feel uncomfortable. I feared what was going to happen at a new school. It could have gone many ways. I am glad that there were people there to make my change nice and comfortable, but I do realize that there are also people there that are going to try and make things hard for you no matter what you are doing in life.

As the year went on, I noticed that my environment was not the only change I would be experiencing. I had to make new friends, but I didn’t realize that I would slowly be losing the old. I don’t quite know when it all happened, but I think it was right after I stopped playing soccer. I played with mostly girls from my old school. Once I stopped, my relationship with them ended as well. It happened pretty quickly. I never got to see them because my life became so busy, and I was never seeing them during the week like I always used to. I remember I woke up one saturday and realized that I only really talked to the people at my new school. I had experienced a change that I was so scared of. I never really got too upset about it, I just knew that me talking to them was seperating my old life from my new life. I think that at first I was very scared for this adjustment in my life, but it soon just became so normal that it didn’t matter much anymore. I almost knew this was going to happen when I went to a new school, but it was hard to make it a reality.

As I got older, things that were so strange to me became normal, but things were still changing. A large change that I have been facing is my siblings going off to college. My brother was the first to go, and then followed my sister.  It made me really upset knowing that I wasn’t going to be with them all the time. I was scared to be alone. I was scared that once they left everything would change. I would basically be alone in the house and I would only really be able to talk to them through the phone. Before they were leaving, I never really thought about it, and when I did I was kind of excited to have the house alone. Both times though, as they left, it dawned on me that I would not get to be with them as much, and it made me upset. I didn’t notice the change until the last minute, and until it was probably too late for me to realize. I wasn’t going to be able to talk to them about how annoying our parents were being, or laugh with them when we are making fun of our parents. We just had so much fun together. I think of this as not one of my most traumatic changes, not saying it wasn’t life changing, but is something that I would have overcome eventually and is something that I needed to face.

I still tend to get very nervous around change but I have learned to cope with my nerves. I have started to become numb to it. I have been through so much change already that it is starting to not affect me unless the change is very drastic. There are so many things that I wish never changed, but if they hadn’t I don’t know where my life would be now. It could be better but it also could have been a lot worse. I think that is why so many people fear change. They don’t know what will happen either way.

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Changing World

Analytical Essay:

Life has many inevitable features, one of them being change. There are many different kinds of change a person will go through in their life, and those changes affect everyone differently. In Tim O’Brien’s “work of fiction,” The Things They Carried, all of the soldiers experience environmental change when making their transition into the war. All of the soldiers adapt to the changes differently, however some try to resist change by acting as if they are still back home in the U.S.  Those experiencing change learn that they need to be flexible and accepting if a good outcome is desired.

Prior to being drafted into Vietnam, Lieutenant Cross fell in love with a college girl named Martha. When he arrived at war, he had a hard time letting go of her. He wrote to her constantly, and carried her picture in his pocket everywhere he went. He often times got carried away in the thought of her, and their future together. Because of his carelessness, one of his men was killed on his watch. Cross couldn’t forgive himself for getting distracted by a life that is no longer his reality. “In part he was grieving for Ted Lavender, but mostly it was for Matha, and himself, because she belonged to another world, which was not real.” Lieutenant Cross embraces his environmental change into the war by not only remembering the love of his life, but by keeping in close touch with her. Because he was still so focused on staying connected with his old life by being in touch with Martha, he lost touch with his current life. He resisted the change by still holding on to what he once had, which ultimately lead to his failure as a lieutenant. When Cross’s environment first changed, he had an immediate instinct to resist the transition. When it was proved that he was too distracted by keeping in close touch with the life he left behind, he was embarrassed and ashamed. This experience taught him to let go of the past, and embrace his newly changed life.

Like Lieutenant Cross, soldier Mark Fossie had a hard time adjusting into the war because he couldn’t stand being away from his lover. One night, Fossie and the other soldiers were talking about how much they missed their girlfriends, and women in general. This leads Fossie to miss his old life to such an extreme that he sends for his girlfriend, Mary Anne. When she first arrived in Vietnam, everything was going great. However, eventually Mary Anne started adjusting to the environmental change, which ultimately changed her personality. Fossie detected the change almost immediately, and regretted bringing her out to war. “He couldn’t pin it down. Her body seemed foreign somehow- too stiff in places, too firm where the softness used to be.” Right when Fossie was getting used to his life changing in war, he started to miss his old life. Instead of just reminiscing, he decided to try and live out the life he missed, resisting the change. This backfired on him, since, of course, Mary Anne changed just like everything else. Their relationship couldn’t be healed, since it belonged back home, not on the battlefield. Fossie learned the lesson that when life changes occur, one has to accept them instead of trying to ignore them.

In an interview with Tim O’Brien, author of The Things They Carried, he explains what a soldier does to mentally handle the war. He says, “the one way to psychologically endure it all is to escape in your head, in your imagination.” Tim O’Brien believes that not only forgetting one’s reality can help them survive the war, but remembering their old lives is necessary to enduring the pain. The key word that O’Brien uses is “imagination.” This explains what soldiers like Lieutenant Cross and Mark Fossie did wrong: they went past simply remembering their family and loved ones to actually involving them into their present life in the war. When change as extreme as going into the war takes place, a soldier’s home life and life in the battlefield need to be kept separate. This does not mean a soldier shouldn’t think about their loved ones and home, but it should never get in the way of their new lives. Accepting environmental changes into battle means to take on one’s career as a soldier strongly, whereas resisting is to ignore the changes.

Environmental change is one of the countless forms of change that people are bound to experience in their life. Many have a first instinct to resist change, which causes a negative outcome. When change arises, one needs to be flexible and accepting. Those experiencing change learn that they need to be flexible and accepting if a good outcome is desired.

Works Cited for Analytical Essay:

  1. "In the Name of Love: An Interview With Tim O'Brien." Personal interview. 10 2009.

  2. Brien, Tim. The Things They Carried: A Work of Fiction. New York: Broadway, 1998. Print.

Narrative Essay:

If you don’t like something, change it. If you can’t change it, change your attitude.”-Maya Angelou

The first day of eighth grade was the day I saw my life flash before my eyes. “This is the end,” I thought, as my peers and I received our assigned homerooms. We were each handed a slip of paper with our name and room assignment printed in bold. “Kara Rosenberg: Room 309,” it said. I was standing with my two best friends when I read my fate, which, at first, I really didn’t have a problem with. I didn’t have anything against room 309, until I found out I could have been in room 310.

“309,” I read aloud to my friends, “okay let’s go!”

“Oh, well our papers say 310…”

And that is the moment my life flashed before my eyes. That was the moment I knew it was over, my middle school career was ruined. Before this, my friends and I were inseparable, stuck to each other like glue. Who would have the guts to try and tear that glue apart? My grin sank into a frown almost as far as my stomach sank to the floor. I watched my friends walk away, into their destined homerooms which I suppose was never a part of the plan laid out for me by the heavens.

I walked into room 309 and scanned my eyes around the room, trying to detect friend-worthy faces. I didn’t see anyone who could possibly live up to the high standards I set, so I took a seat in the corner of the room. The rest of the class shuffled in, loud and obnoxious. I rolled my eyes and put my head down, just waiting for the lesson so that the imbeciles filling my ears with unneeded conversation would stop making so much noise. Finally, Ms. VanDyke, the homeroom teacher of 309, told everyone to quiet down and take a seat.

I thought it was strange, I had been in the same middle school for three years, but yet there were some people in my class who I had never talked to before. There are only two homeroom classes for every grade in middle school, and I had always been placed in one with all of my friends.

“Okay everyone,” said Ms. VanDyke, “I know you’re all probably wondering why you’re not with your usual crowd this year. To prepare you for high school, we decided to change up the way the classes are divided. Homerooms were created randomly, but for math and reading, you all will be split up into the class that suits the level you fall under. These classes will be with the people you normally have been with in middle school, until now. But, for every other class, these are the people you will be spending your time with.”

I didn’t know whether to be happy, sad, or confused, so I decided to be all three at once. I never knew we had always been split up on an academic basis, but it made sense as to why I was always with the same people I was used to. “At least I’ll see my friends soon,” I thought.

The bell rang and it was time for math class. I saved a seat for my friend next to me, and she found me immediately. When class began I saw all of the familiar faces, and I felt a wave of relief wash over my body. That class made me realize my friends were the ones I belonged with. I needed them to enjoy school, and I didn’t understand how I was supposed to go on being in a homeroom with people I didn’t even know! So, my friend and I made a plan. We thought it couldn’t be that hard for me to switch homerooms, it was the first day of school, who cared if I moved now?

We approached Ms. VanDyke at her desk. At first, we simply asked if it was possible… but then it turned into begging her that it had to happen.

“I’m sorry girls,” she said, “but room 310 is full. You’ll just have to live in 309.”

That’s when I made Ms. VanDyke my arch enemy. No, that’s when I made the entire room of 309 my enemy. For the next two weeks I continued to sit in my seat in the back of the room with a frown on my face and a stiff disposition, only loosening up when it was time for math and reading.

One day, I saw my friends walking with someone I had never seen before. When I asked who she was later in the day, they said she was someone new they had met in their homeroom, and that she was really nice. I looked around and noticed that not only my friends, but everyone was making new friends and adjusting to the change much better than I was. I was the only one in my class who sat alone. At first, I took offense to this fact, thinking that everyone thought they were better than me.

“Well maybe you should just make new friends,” one of my friends said, “I mean, then it wouldn’t be as bad.”

“Friends? You guys are my friends! I don’t like any of the people in my class!”

“Yeah, but you don’t even know them. We’re always going to be friends, but we obviously can’t be together all the time, so you should just try to make it more enjoyable for yourself. There’s nothing else you can do about it.”

I knew my friends were right, but I didn’t want to admit it. The next day, I decided to sit at a table with people I had seen before, but never really talked to.

“Do you mind if I sit here?” I asked

“No, go ahead,” a girl said with a smile.

That girl became my new best friend. Eighth grade became my favorite, most memorable year of middle school, and I made so many new friendships that will last forever. I left middle school learning a key life lesson: change needs to be accepted, not rejected. Being difficult when change occurs works against you, and just makes things harder on everyone.


Greta Haskell, The Things They Carried, Q2 Benchmark

Analytical Essay:

Like many of the characters in Tim O’Brien’s The Things They Carried, Tim has a special and very different view on coping. Everyone has their own way of coping and Tim’s is unique, he writes and sometimes has a bad approach and “copes” with anger instead. As the world around them changes, individuals find their own way to cope with what it going on around them.

In the beginning of the book Tim shares a story he has never told anyone else before, making it an intimate experience for the reader. This in itself is a way to cope for him but much later than he should have. He tells the readers about how when he found out that he was being drafted for the war he got so upset about it he ran away to Canada and couldn't decide if he should say and be happy or go to war and be a “hero”. Later in an interview Tim reveals the whole story was a lie saying, “I never went to the Rainy River to decide whether or not to go to Viet-nam. It's a lie...To get at a higher, nobler truth, I tell a big lie.” He told the story so that he could get people to feel how he felt with a “noble” lie. It was a way of coping for Tim so that when he came back from the war he could use his imagination to take him away from the sad reality and put himself in a place where he felt heroic and brave, instead of feeling guilt from lying he felt the pleasure of knowing he did something right.

The events that could have harmed Tim were clearly hard to go through. Tim wants his readers to be in the same mindset as him and feel that same feelings he went through to know how he really felt at that time and place in the war. He describes the experience saying,  “'re not human anymore. You're a shadow. You slip out of your own skin, like molting, shedding your own history and your own future, leaving behind everything you ever were or wanted to believed in. You know you're about to die. And it's not a movie and you aren't a hero and all you can do is whimper and wait.” Tim does not always have a positive approach to coping. He sometimes deals with the war by convincing himself and acknowledging that he has no feelings anymore and he just has to go through with it. This could damage him more in the long run if he is constantly thinking this way, that is why it is good that he has writing as an outlet.

Near the end of the book Tim tells the readers about his logic when writing. He has a very dreamlike state of mind when writing and telling stories and it helps him to deal with the events which might be traumatic. He concludes, “The thing about a story is that you dream it as you tell it, hoping that others might then dream along with you, and in this way memory and imagination and language combine to make spirits in the head. There is the illusion of aliveness.” p. 230 To cope with his changed, traumatic, environment, Tim tells stories which give him a small amount of happiness when he is depressed and scared from the war. When he tells a story he can sort of leave his body and not have to deal with the bad parts of the war for a moment.

Everyone has a different way of coping, some simple, some more extreme. In Tim O’Brien’s case he takes it to the extreme, showing how people can have different approaches. When people notice the world changing around them they stress and find different ways to cope and change themselves to better themselves in the changing world.

Works Cited for Analytical Essay:

  1. O'Brien, Tim. The Things They Carried. New York, NY: Broadway, 1990. Print.

  1. Bourne, Daniel, and Shostak, Debra. "A Conversation with Tim O'Brien." The College of Wooster. October 2, 1991. Web. October 20, 2009.

Narrative Essay:

When I was little I was always off in my own little imaginary world. I had imaginary friends, I would build fairy houses and I always sang, I still do. One thing my parents always told me was that when I was little I would always sing to myself especially when I was excited or nervous about something. I would just make up little melodies and hum or sing. They thought it was just something cute but now that I’m older and I am constantly singing I looked back on it a little and realized that it is my coping mechanism.

My sister is born on Halloween so my other sister and I spent Halloween with my grandma that year. I was always excited because I loved to dress up all the time as a little kid but now I was in a new neighborhood and I didn't know what I was in for. That night we walked over to my aunts house and we were getting ready to go trick or treating. My sister and I were walking a bit ahead and my grandma noticed that I was singing a little song. I was just too excited that I couldn't hold it in. I was dressed as a dinosaur and I would go up to houses and roar! Then I would get my candy and carry on singing. They always make fun of me for it now.

Now that I’m older I listen to music constantly especially in the car. I can’t stand quiet car rides. Whenever there is music I am singing. Everyone in my family knows that my secret talent is remembering song lyrics, I can listen to a song once or twice and the next time I hear it I’m belting along. I made the connection as I was writing this. When I was little I would cope with things that were different or out of my comfort zone by singing and now I still do. Whenever I do homework I listen to music because it calms me down and when I am driving I listen and sing along. My mom thinks I shouldn’t because it will distract me but honestly, it helps me concentrate.

I don’t know why music has always helped me I guess it just goes back to when I was a baby doing music classes and dance classes and just never losing it since. I never really have found an answer as to why I started this coping mechanism but I feel that if I was singing I was distracting myself from things that scared me and worried me and took me off into my own little world to deal with it.
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Sergei Mass- The Things They Carried- Q2 BM

Analytical Essay:

“Those who have had any such experience as the author will see its truthfulness at once, and to all other readers it is commended as a statements of actual things by one who experienced them to the fullest.” - John Ransom’s Andersonville Diary. With the world constantly changing, people tend to get lost, distressed, and totally confused about the curveballs and hard times in life. It could be economic struggles, emotional differences within a relationship, or in this case war. Like Tim O’Brien, the therapeutic way of dealing with the changing world is imagining things and painting a new story like how Tim did by writing The Things They Carried.

The Vietnam war was known to be the most devastating in US history due to the uncivilized and jurassic tactics that the Vietnamese used against us. Such as using children to fight for them and women. The soldiers had different forms of comfort to help them through the hard times. Some might have been imagining loved ones were there like James Cross in ‘The Things They Carried’, “Lieutenant Cross gazed at the tunnel. But she was not there. He was buried with Martha under the white sand at the Jersey shore. They were pressed together, and the pebble in his mouth was her tongue.” (pg 18 Ebook). Jimmy Cross had a long going love for this girl of his back at home. At night to escape from the living hell of the Vietnam War, he would imagine the times that him and his girl had back at home. It was almost like a therapeutic act to do it at night. It would remind him all of the good times he had and let him know that something was waiting for him at home. Martha sent him a pebble from the Jersey shore to remember her by and he had that with him at all time. He would put the stone in his mouth to synthesize Martha’s tongue. As odd as it may sound, it worked for him.

Some of the soldiers took with them sentimental items with them. Some would use it as a device of comfort. With the treturous missions came big risks, that they would not make it home alive; to be shipped back stateside in a wooden box. With the flag draped across the top. Even the biggest of warriors had their charms and sentimental pieces. “ The pantyhose, he said, had the properties of a good-luck charm. He liked putting his nose into the nylon and breathing in the scent of his girlfriend's body; he liked the memories this inspired; he sometimes slept with the stockings up against his face, the way an infant sleeps with a flannel blanket, secure and peaceful.” (pg 82 Ebook). The little things are what kept some of the soldiers sane. The stocking in this case was used as a device to cope and remember about the good times spent with the soldiers girl friend. The one that he left at home to help fight for their freedom and to help support the countries endeavors. The simplest things like the pantyhose and the stone reminded the soldiers what they were fighting for and that they had someone or something.

One can ask veterans of the Vietnam War and the majority of them would describe it as hell. Tim O’Brien the author of The Things They Carried wrote a lot about his war experiences. In one interview with a news company he said "Imagination is important in a couple of ways. One way is as a psychological means of escape. If one can lose themselves in a fantasy, then they would be no longer trapped in the horror of, say, Vietnam." Escaping while being in the Vietnam war was a huge thing. Some resulted in drug and alcohol abuse the numb the pain and horrors encountered while being there. While others used this as a time to imagine their loved ones and used certain sentimental objects to help the imagination some to life.

With the world constantly changing, people tend to get lost, distressed, and totally confused with all of the curveballs and hard times in life. It could be economic struggles, relationships with others, or in this case war. The Things They Carried by Tim O’Brien holds great proof that imagination is a great use for a type of therapeutic healing.

Works Cited for Analytical Essay:

O'Brien, Tim. The Things They Carried: A Work of Fiction. New York: Broadway, 1998. Print.

Sawyer, Scott. "In the Name of Love: An Interview With Tim O'Brien." Mars Hill Review. (Links to an external site.). Winter/Spring 1996. Web. October 20 2009.

Narrative Essay:

Growing up as an only child is the definition of the struggle. Having no one to ever play with was the worst thing I could think of. When friends were not over, being bored was a huge problem. Boredom would result in me either getting hurt or doing something that I should not do. Imagination started to play a huge role in my childhood days.

About when I turned 4 I would believe that my cat named Bobby would drive me to Pre-School in my fathers Corvette. It had to be one of the most outrageous things, but it was definitely kept me occupied. When I told kids as school this, they were instantly amazed, except for this kid Jeremy, but he didn’t last long there after he bit my arm and I hit him. Anyways, when I would get home, I would put my cat Bobby in my huge model car. Bringing him around the house as he was deathly terrified. Its crazy to think back now that for hours on end I would do this, It would really keep me amused. I would also play Madden 03’ with my cat on my PS2. I would think that he would be playing. I would plug in the controller and put it in front of him, but majority of the time, Bobby would run away.

Also as a younger child, I had a teddy bear by the name of Teddy. How original? Right, anyways I won him at Sesame Place when I was 4 years old. Now he was not just any ordinary teddy bear, he was high quality and never ripped or was torn open. About a day after my adventures of Sesame Place, I had gotten very sick from the food there. I had Teddy with me the whole time I was in bed, out of bed running to the bathroom, and then back into bed. He was the one that was there for me the whole time. When I was 7 we had a series of bad thunderstorms during the Summer and trees were falling all over our neighborhood. I would constantly cry, but when I got teddy in my arms I would calm down. It’s as if Teddy was my coping tool with certain things in my childhood.

As time went on and I grew up, my phone turned into a huge support device and just a way to kinda almost escape. Whether it be music, facebook, instagram, something sneaker or Kanye related, or talking to someone; it is a great thing. Just listening to music for countless hours on end can help a bunch when in certain situations. Then also having the ability to contact anyone you know in the matter of seconds to talk to them about something is great as well. I remember when I was about 10 when my parents were getting divorced. There was a bunch of constant fighting back and forth with my parents. I would call my grandmother to talk to because she was the easiest person to talk to. She also helped me through a bunch of things at that time like school work and advice. I had gotten some of the best advice of my life over the phone from her. My phone lead into a different way form of comfort, one that is almost constant.


Eamon Kelly - The Things they Carried - Q3 Benchmark

Analytical Essay:

When people talk about fate, their first instinct immediately tells them that they are in control of their own lives and not fate. In Tim O’Brien’s “The Things They Carried,” many soldiers show their interactions with one another by opening up to each other and trying to work together as a team. The relationship between the self and the changing world is that the the world is aware of individuals and revolves around them.

O’Brien uses a certain small character, named Curt Lemon, in one of the chapters of The Things They Carried to show how the character handled one of his fears in front of his fellow soldiers. In a small chapter of the book, the soldiers are scheduled to have their teeth cleaned by the dentist. When Curt Lemon finds out about this, his attitude changes completely. He switches from being “the tough guy” to spending some time alone in silence. “No way. Count me out. Nobody messes with these teeth.” (pg. 87) Curt Lemon was always playing the “tough guy” role, always bossing people around. But Lemon also kept mostly to himself, which made most of the other soldiers feel confused. Curt Lemon was one of those kinds of people who are good at hiding their true emotions. He used authority to hide his fear of the dentist from the others. The changing world set up the situation with the dentist in order to help Lemon cope with his feelings and open up. Though he didn’t actually admit to being afraid, it was clear to the others that the dentist has caused Lemon’s “assertive” role to disappear.

When soldiers return from their service in war, they usually have many wonderful stories to tell. Some of the stories may sound small to others, but these stories will stick to soldiers for a very long time. The main character, Tim, is reflecting on the stories that get passed around by their friends, and from generation to generation. “Vietnam was full of strange stories, some improbable, some well beyond that, but the stories that will last forever are those that swirl back and forth...between trivia and bedlam...” (pg. 89) The Soldiers who return from war do not realise that war can actually help them discover new traits about themselves, since the war is part of the changing world. The stories that they tell may sound small and meaningless, but in reality, these stories mean a lot to them. War is one of those rare places and situations that causes the soldiers to not only work together as a team, but to also discover hidden traits about them.

Tim O’Brien, the author of The Things They Carried, was actually drafted into Vietnam, which was most likely where his inspiration for the book came from. He based many of his characters on his fellow soldiers who fought alongside with him. “After all, I lived with them for five years while I was writing. In Vietnam people were being rotated constantly, so men you served with you would know six or eight months. These characters are the people I know best.'' (Tim O’Brien; ‘A Storyteller For the War That Won’t End’) The changing world sets itself up to allow people to open up about themselves. Because of this, the people will never forget their true personalities. After O’Brien returned from being drafted into war, he never forgot the “characters” het met during his service. His fellow soldiers inspired O’Brien to create the characters in The Things They Carried based off of them, because their traits and true emotions always stuck with him.

Soldiers play a big part in this novel to prove to some people who may not believe that fate exists. Everyone has their own little world revolving around them and is aware of every move they make. Although fate may not seem important or alive to lots of people, it should concern anyone that wonders how they got to where they are in life, especially soldiers returning from war.

Works Cited for Analytical Essay:

Narrative Essay:

Every person likes to believe that they have the world revolving around them, but many of them do not believe in fate. Lots of people do not like the idea of not being in control of their own life, but they do however believe that everything happens for a reason. I am one of those people who prefer to keep their emotions hidden. People keep their emotions hidden by either acting like a jerk, or being the “funny guy.”

When I entered high school, I wanted to be mature and responsible. So, I hid all of my true emotions – my sadness, my anger towards others, and my love towards others. I hid my feelings by acting very funny, so that no one would believe that I have feelings besides happiness. However, looking back on it, there were still some moments in the last few years where I believed that fate exists. I believed that every situation I’ve been in with my friends was set up in order to get me to open up about my true emotions. Or, the decisions I’ve made helped me get to where I am today.

I was eleven when I became interested in filmmaking, and now I am learning more and more today. Whenever I have time, I stop what I’m doing and remember the journey to how I got here. The day I was interviewed to see if I would get accepted to Science Leadership Academy, my current high school, I presented to the teacher a short film I directed when I was thirteen. They looked very impressed with the final product.

“What was the process like? What was the most challenging part of production?“ they asked, desperate to hear my answers.

Every answer I gave them probably increased my chances of getting accepted, and I indeed did get accepted. I keep reflecting on what I said to them during my interview. I explained thoroughly what the process was like with my small film crew and the equipment we used and how we shot it. A lot of my friends presented science projects in their interviews, which were very interesting, but I think that in a school where there are usually a lot of science projects, it was one film I directed that got me in Science Leadership Academy. And now, When I look at the amazing friends I have here, I now treasure the film I made a few years ago, as it is what got me to be close friends with a lot of awesome people in high school.

The stories do not end there however, because now I’ve had moments with my friends that have caused me to think that maybe fate actually exists. It is as if there is a schedule that I don’t see, but it is there. In my sophomore year of high school, I met someone at school who had somewhat similar interests as me, thought I thought he was really annoying. In the beginning of this year, we ended up in the same video elective class. We were also in the same group to produce a short film for an assignment. I was not looking forward to working with him, but much to my surprise…I was right.

Filming took a long time when it could’ve taken much less time, and he kept bugging me about the editing process. However, now that the assignment is over, I now realize that this project actually gave me new tips on film techniques. I already knew a lot of what my partner was doing, but now I make sure to have pre-production finished before filming begins. This made me think that fate made me work with him in order to increase my filmmaking skills.

Whenever people ask me if I believe in fate, my first instinct would be to say no. Once I have a few seconds to analyze the question, I would turn to saying that it does exist. The changing world that I am characterizing is my growing friendships. They are the ones that move my story forward. My world is aware of me and creates these “scenarios” that create the path of my life. Everyone has their own world that revolves around them, and it shows clear situation examples of how fate can exist.

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Angelica Owens- "The things they carried" Benchmark

Analytical Essay:

Once trust gets broken, it is hard for it to be repaired. Trusting people with too many things is where people in the society goes wrong. In the book “The things they carried”, Tim O’Brien talks about trusting people. At times, O’Brien trusted people that he originally didn’t get along with or people that he really liked. Once you learn to trust someone you will be more open to facing obstacles.

Enemies can become friends, all it takes is to think positive and learn to trust them. With Dave Jensen and Lee Strunk, this happened for their relationship. They started out as enemies but it didn’t stay like this. “They did learn to trust each other. Over the next month, they teamed up on ambushes. They covered each other on patrol, shared a fox-hole and took turns pulling guard at night (O’Brien; page 65).” At first Jensen and Strunk didn’t start off as friends but that all changed. They built a level of trust for each other that showed they could face certain obstacles together. When they were enemies without trust, they wouldn’t have done those things with each other but with trust building, they were able to take risks by doing those things for each other.

When love is a factor with someone, you trust them with a lot of things and that’s what happened with Cross and Martha. On the first page of the book, O’Brien says that “more than anything he wanted her to love him as he loved her, but the letters were mainly chatty, elusive on the matter of love.” Cross trusted Martha with things that he never did with anyone. He trusted her to love him and by trusting her to do that, he was facing obstacles. He faced the possibility of her not loving him as he wanted her to love him.

Writing things on paper can help remember the trust that was built between two people. That is what Jensen and Strunk did. On page 65, “they drew it up on paper, signing their names and asking a couple of guys to act as witnesses (O’Brien).” The trust they built was reconfirmed by writing it on paper for one another. Once they trusted each other, they wrote it down on paper so that they knew they really trusted each other. Before building trust, Jensen and Strunk wouldn’t have asked guys to act as witnesses which they took the risk of facing that obstacle.

In Tim O’Brien’s shock of being drafted, he explains how he felt and how he reacted when he heard he was drafted into the war, which wasn’t a good reaction. He stated that he pounded on the typewriter when he heard it. He also said that “It was the most terrible summer of my life, worse than being in the war. My conscience kept telling me not to go, but my whole upbringing told me I had to.”  While O’Brien was scared of being drafted, he decided to follow his mind and trust his conscience. They say follow your conscience because it will never let anyone down but in his case, he followed what he was brought up to do. That told him he had to go so he went and hoped for the best. He trusted that he would be safe. By doing that, he was open to facing more obstacles. Once he said he was going to go, there is no turning back which caused him to take risks and face every obstacle that there was so that he could get home safe.

Works Cited for Analytical Essay:

"Tim O'Brien Article #1." N.p., n.d. Web. <>.

Narrative Essay:

“Trust is like a mirror. Once it’s broken it’s never seen the same again & no matter how much you try to put it back together, the cracks will always show.” said Ms. Bickley, my 8th grade writing teacher wrote on the chalkboard

In Middle School, I had a bad tendency of trusting people and them constantly letting me down so I stopped trusting people. I realized I had to trust people because trusting is the key to everything. If someone lets you down then that’s their fault. I started the school in 6th grade but my best friends until this day Salia and Kayla started the school in 7th grade. I had a guard up and didn’t want to trust them with anything or any of my business. Eventually we had a deep conversation and I told them everything about me. All the faults I think I have and all the positive things and they disagreed. The point that I will remember most is when I came out to them about my sexuality in 8th grade, they didn’t tell a soul. They were two people that I remember when I said “keep it as a secret,” they kept it as a secret while I told other people and when I told them that they went around and told the whole grade about me. People started looking at me strange and made rumors about me at that same time but I knew then I could trust them with everything and if I told them not to tell anyone, they wouldn’t tell anyone and I can trust them.  Before this experience I had trust issues in ways but I still thought the people I called my friends would never let me down. Most of them did prove me wrong. Luckily, after this incident happened I knew who I could trust and most the people that went around school telling people were not on my list of trustworthy people. Going into Middle School as one of the only people who didn’t know anyone, I had a lot of hopes that I would be able to trust more people and it took me all of my middle school career to learn that I couldn’t trust everyone. Even when I came into High School, I still had problems with trusting the wrong people but as I started growing into my High School career, I learned once again I can’t trust everybody and how many times people let me down. Now, I am very careful in who I trust because so many people have let me down in the past and I don’t want to go through that again. Having close people in my life that I know 100 percent that I can trust has made me be more open minded of things and that if I need to talk to someone I can always count on them to be by my side. Learning how to trust people has made me more open to facing obstacles because even though numerous people have let me down, I still try to trust other people so that they can prove to me if I should trust them in the future.  

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The Changing World Essay - Ilker Erkut

Changing World Essay

War is a life changing experience.  People go to war as one person and leave as another; confused and unsure.  Soldiers are taught to kill anyone that is not one of them.  They make killing a second nature.  While in a war, there are various stages that people will go through to cope with the feelings of being  home sick or scared.  In the book “The Things They Carried” by Tim O’ Brian. The men go through the many stages of denial, hoping they do not become killing monsters like the war wants them to be.  They want to come home after war unchanged.  When in a new setting, sometimes it is hard to get comfortable.  Living a life in war, there are many opportunities where there has to be something that no one wants to do.  When alone if the same situation arises, it will go differently because people do not want to become monsters from their line of work.  They are breaking protocol to do the right thing.  There is a lot of adapting to new scenarios and trying to fit in.  People tend to make up their own rules to survive and feel better about themselves.

The first thing that is taught to people who are going into war, is to kill.  It becomes muscle memory and happens constantly to the point where people are beside themselves, trying to put pieces of themselves together and not losing all normal aspects of themselves.  It becomes very hard to leave war unharmed mentally unless the soldiers use the denial to keep them sane.  “You’re right” he said  “All you can do is be nice.  Treat them decent you know?”(Page 123)   The last thing soldiers need is another dead body.  They go through so much hardship getting used to the fact that killing is okay.  The less kills, the better it is for their mental state of the mind.  It keeps them human.  The rule is that if a citizen is seen they have to be killed because they could go back to wherever they live and tell everyone that Americans are here with guns.  The man who was quoted is Henry Dobbins.  He is one of the characters in “The Things They Carried.   So Henry Dobbins sparing the two men in the church was risky but necessary.

          In some situations disobeying could have two positive reactions.  In “The Things They Carried Dave Jensen and Lee Shrunk were not very close, but they went through a series of events them allowed them to grow as partners.  They respected each other.  There agreement was that if one in a near death situation because they got shot etc, the other would kill them to put them out of the misery.  “In late August they made a pact that if one of them should ever get totally fucked up-- a wheelchair wound--the other guy would automatically find a way to end it.”(Page 66) Jenson disobeyed Strunk, but not because he was doing the right thing but because he was scared to kill his friend.  He was very lucky to find out that his friend was dead because that was Jensen's original wish.  He disobeyed him because he knew that if he survived he could still live with one leg.  But the fact that he died was still pleasing because Jenson’s wish was granted.

There are many symbols of respect in the world.  It real respect when its someone that there is no knowledge of.  When Henry Dobbins was in the church with two older men.  The rule is to kill anyone on site because they could report to others that Americans are in their territory.  Henry trusted these two men enough to risk the whole operation because of their hospitality.    The two older men gave the soldiers a place to stay for a little bit.  Out of respect he made a washing hands symbol.  “Henry Dobbins made the washing motion with his hands.”(Page 123)  Dobbins is given specific orders than any foreigners seen should be shot on sight, but he finds a spot in his heart for the people at the church for helping them even though the war is going on. It is as if he was cleansing himself for all the killings and crimes committed in Henry’s time as a soldier.  He shows them a sign of respect and spares their lives.

Many people will find it hard to read this book because of the lying and mixed memories.  Through out the book Tim tells stories.  He is constantly throwing in hints that he is not sure of the story.  But by the end it is obvious that he is lying for a great amount of it.  Whats real and whats not?  “A thing may happen and be a total lie; another thing may not happen and be truer than the truth.” Throughout the book Tim O’Brien is lying about his life to the audience.  He writes stories that many people believe to be real until people realize that he is just writing stories that are made up.  It makes people feel that they cannot believe what they read.  Tim O'Brien cannot tell truth from lie.  He was doing this because he was trying to get the viewers to understand how he felt after the war.  His mind was fuzzy.  He had been through a great deal of danger and tragedy.  

There are stories about war and how many people were saved and lots of great things happen.  But when put under the scope, the way people turn out after war is more visible.  The pain, weakness, death and living standards are what makes it hard.  Death becomes second nature, a sixth cent and something to be used to.  Many soldiers feel the need to shoot themselves because they cannot handle the pressure and lifestyle.  These soldiers get dishonorably let go and become frowned upon by anyone that has met them in the war.  As great as it is to get away, it feels just as bad to be bullied because they aren’t tough enough.  The only way to stay true to yourself is to disobey and keep things as normal as possible where they can.   There is a lot of adapting to new scenarios and trying to fit in.  People tend to make up their own rules to survive and feel better about themselves.


I remember one day, years ago in spring and I was getting ready for school.  As soon as I was finished and ready to go to the door and leave, I realized I should close all the windows just in case.  I was very skeptical about everything.  I thought about the worst.  It gave me a little sense of adventure.  I went back to the door after closing all the windows.  I was just about to leave when my dad asked “Who closed all the window?”  I told him that I did it because I did not want anything coming in while we were out.  I was a very skeptical kid growing up.  I did not want to be robbed, kidnapped etc.  I wanted to feel as safe as possible.  I always did little things like closing the windows or locking my bedroom door.  I put so much thought into everything I did because I knew one day I would be ready for anything.  He said in a very frustrated voice that he did not need me to do that and that we would be fine.  I found it interesting that he said that because he normally closes the windows himself.  I was not sure why he was mad but I apologized and left.  I went to school wondering what the big fuss was about leaving it open.  On the way home it started raining a lot.  There were things flying through the air.  It was like a mini hurricane.  Luckily for me I did not live very far so I ran to my house.  Once I stepped inside I panicked.  Every window was open.  At the time we also did not have screens because we were planning on getting new ones.  I calmed myself down and decided to close the window closest to the door.  Then I ran down to my living room.  It was like a pool.  I went to close all the windows.   I knew that all of our belongings would have been soaked.  I ended cleaning up the mess by myself for about 2 hours.  When my dad got home I did not expect an apology.  It really was not that big of a deal to him.  But I knew I did the right that and that if he just listened to me our house wouldn’t be so destroyed.  

Henry Dobbins is in a place where not following orders and or trying to leave the base is considered a wimp.  It is considered disrespectful to the service and he would probably be hated for the rest of his time there.  He was given direct orders to kill anyone seen, but the people at the church, he knew were harmless and he did not kill them because of that.  The old men that knew the Americans intentions gave them shelter and food to live.  It was very noble and risky chance to take.  But in the end it worked out.  There are many experiences where I broke the rules and cut corners for the right reasons.  No matter what people said I knew I had the right intent and that in the end it would be fine.  I felt a connection with that he did and I agreed with his decision to keep them alive.

Works Cited for Analytical Essay:

"Tim O'Brien Quotes." Tim O'Brien Quotes (Author of The Things They Carried). Good Reads, n.d. Web. 13 Jan. 2015.

The Book “The Things They Carried”

O'Brien, Tim. The Things They Carried: A Work of Fiction. New York: Broadway, 1998. Print.

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The Self vs The Changing World

Analytical Essay:

Depression and anxiety are common emotions experienced by people when their world changes in a non favorable way. People develop different habits in order to cope with what they are experiencing. Sleeping is one way to cope with it. It is very common due to the fact that people attempt to have happy dreams of what their life used to be before their world changed. It provides people with a pass time to get over with their change. In the book, The Things They Carried, by Tim O'brien, people cope with the changing world by attempting to dream because then they avoid having to consciously think about their troubles and can make their own fantasy.

In the chapter “Lives of the Dead”, Tim O’brien talks about how he coped with the death of his friend Linda who died of brain cancer. After her death he slept a lot more often. This is when his mom started a conversation with him to see if he was alright. He responded, “‘Nothing. I just need sleep, that's all.’ I didn't dare tell the truth. It was embarrassing, I suppose, but it was also a precious secret, like a magic trick, where if I tried to explain it, or even talk about it, the thrill and mystery would be gone. I didn't want to lose Linda.” (244) This shows that events that cause depression are sometimes dealt with by dreaming and therefore sleeping in order to make a place where the real world changes that caused the depression is no longer there. He really believes it is a successful way of coping with it, even though he doesn’t understand how something so simple can be so joyful. The reason for dreaming as opposed to eating or some other way of coping is because while eating takes you away from what happened, it does not take you back to when that change happened, whereas dreaming does. Also, there are less adverse side effects to sleeping than to excessive eating such as weight gain and risk for heart disease and several others diseases that are life threatening which are common side effects of excessive eating.

In the chapter “On the Rainy River”, O’brien was staying at a lodge owned by Elroy Berdahl in Minnesota near the border between the United States and Canada. O’brien had sleeping problems because of his anxiety of being drafted into the Vietnam War. He was tempted into going to Canada to escape his draft order but was too scared to. “I couldn't sleep; I couldn't lie still. At night I'd toss around in bed, half awake, half dreaming, imagining how I'd sneak down to the beach and quietly push one of the old man's boats out into the river and start paddling my way toward Canada.” (50) Here is an example of a time when a character desperately tried to sleep in order to avoid their real world change. While he was not fully asleep, he even mentions the fact that when he was “half awake, half dreaming” he dreamed about doing what he was too afraid to do in real life which was going into Canada. This show that even when one cannot successfully sleep, if they are in a half dream state, they can at least experience part of what they would if they were fully asleep.

In the chapter “Enemies”, soldiers Dave Jensen and Lee Strunk got into a fight. Jensen being larger in size, was victorious and ended up breaking Strunk’s nose. After that event Strunk was always on edge at night while trying to sleep. “At night he had trouble sleeping—a skittish feeling—always on guard, hearing strange noises in the dark, imagining a grenade rolling into his foxhole or the tickle of a knife against his ear.” (63)  While he was never able to successfully go to sleep, this does show what happens when you are awake and worry about the changing world. In this case while he was awake he stressed out always thinking Jensen was waiting to kill him. His attempt at sleeping in order to dream would have proved as a good way of coping if we was able to. It is certain that him being awake made him not able to think about anything other than the possibility of Jensen killing him.

During an interview with Mars Hill Review (MHR), Tim O’brien was asked why  he thought imagining was crucial to him as a soldier and a person. He responded, “Imagination is important in a couple of ways. One way is as a psychological means of escape. If you can lose yourself in a fantasy, then you're no longer trapped in the horror of, say, Vietnam.” Dreaming is when one’s imagination is at its fullest so it would make sense that most of that imagination came from dreaming. In your dreams its much easy to escape reality because its when things seem most real but actually aren’t.

While there are many different ways to cope with the changing world dreaming is one of the most easy and common that provides escape. It gives people the ability to experience the most realistic feeling of places that isn’t real yet can mimic a person’s desire for things to be how they were before the world changed. While people cannot always controls what happens in their dreams, just the hope of them being able to experience their better past life is something for them to look forward to. Without dreaming, many people wouldn’t have something to look forward to in order for them to be in a happy place.

Works Cited for Analytical Essay:

O'Brien, Tim. The Things They Carried: A Work of Fiction. New York: Broadway, 1998. Print.

Sawyer, Scott. "In the Name of Love: An Interview With Tim O'Brien." Mars Hill Review. (Links to an external site.). Winter/Spring 1996. Web. October 20 2009.

Narrative Essay:

“Nebil are you okay?” my mom would usually ask.

“Yeah, I’m fine. I’m just tired” was my response.

Under the covers of my bed, I was in a place of comfort. I preferred to sleep facing my window, so I wouldn’t be looking at anyone who came in my room. I either stared at something in the room or out of the window before I slept. Sometimes I slept from twelve noon until 8 at night and often times much more erratic sleeping patterns.

Sleeping was my way of coping with something that happened to me, whether it be that I was a mad at my parents or friends or whether I was depressed about something. This time I slept because I was depressed about my grades in class. I used to always be stressed about my grades and thinking they had a big snowball effect on my future. I used to think that if I got a B in Math for even just one quarter my chances of getting into an Ivy League instantly dropped to nothing. Pressure from academics like that always used to get to me. I used to see a lot of my friends getting much better grades than I was, and they were worried about their own future which made me think I should be even more worried about my own. The stress from worrying about my future and classes often times required for me to sleep.

The reason I slept was because when I slept, I didn’t think about anything. I was free from the worries that encompassed me while I was awake. In my dreams I did what I normally did while not thinking about what I would have to when I woke. I guess I like that feeling of being care free or unaware. It relieves me of stress and allows me to enjoy myself. After waking up I am usually much more alive than I was before I slept. I still would keep that feeling of being carefree for a while after I woke up. That is until my friends say something about homework, projects, colleges, and SATs.

Aside from my parents, my friends started to worry about me too. At first on school nights I would usually chat with them on skype. When I went to sleep early because I was angry, stressed, or depressed, they often ask me what’s wrong. “Hey Nebil, what’s wrong?” someone usually says in school when they see my head down.

“Nothing, I’m just not feeling great. I just need some sleep.” was my usual response.

“Okay, hope you feel better?” they could tell I was lying, but it’s not like I would put much effort into it anyway.

My sleeping habits started to become unhealthy. I used to sleep in school very often. In my sophomore year, in almost every History class for the first quarter, I slept through just because I couldn’t stand some of the ignorant comments that were said from across the classroom. It was so bad that it got to the point where the teacher took me out of class and asked why I was sleeping so much. My response was the same to him as well.

My sleeping habits only got worse. I started to sleep in on weekends. Whenever my friends asked me if I  wanted to go with them some where, I would come up with some excuse and tell them that yesterday was rough I wasn’t feeling good. I got too used to dreaming as a way of escape. While initially it seemed harmless, I later realized I was desocializing myself from the world. The few times I didn’t make an excuse and went with them somewhere, I would hear them converse about funny events that I missed because I didn’t go with them the previous time. At first I made nothing of it, but later I realized I asked the question, “What are you guys talking about?” a little too often because I didn’t meet with them as often as I previously did.

I tried to stop myself from sleeping by doing something else to cope with my stress. Eating didn’t work at all because I didn’t like to eat while I was angry, stressed or depressed. While I liked exercising, I was never in the mood to do it for the same reasons I didn’t eat. In the end I just went back to sleeping and pushed the thoughts of my friends, parents, and teachers worrying about me to the back of my head.

One of my friends who I talked to often always told me not to worry about school because I was doing just fine in school. They told me that I was getting all A’s so there was really nothing to worry about. While it was nice that they did that, it was hard to take them seriously because they were doing much better than me in school and much more outside of school to have things to put on their resumé.

Since then, that friend has kept on telling me that I’m at an okay place. Ever since then, I started believing what they said more and more as believed their sincerity. To this day I still do sleep when I’m depressed but I noticed that I sleep less. It’s not because I found a different way to cope with stress, depression, and anger, but now I don’t experience those emotions as often because my friends helped take those emotions off of me. I found out that my friends have become a more important tool for me to deal with an uncomfortably changing world.

Changing World Essay

Lindsey Jones 1/13/15

A Changing World

The world is a forever changing place, physically and metaphorically for each human being. Events that dramatically affect that the way a person lives their life can trigger many different reactions in the human psyche. People can be  unsure about how to react to change during this time. One reaction is to try to gain control. When someone does not want to accept change, they grasp onto as much control of their lives as possible, even when everything seems to be out of control. People cope with change in theirs lives by controlling aspects of it.

The novel, the Yellow Birds by Kevin Powers contains the round trip journey of a young man named Bartle to and from the war in Iraq. Bartle, and several of his comrades deal with the power of change that the war creates. Bartle, unsure about his place in the war, and reason he enlisted, tries to gain control of himself by confiding in a younger comrade, Murph, one of the youngest and most naive in the group, suffers the ultimate fate when he isn’t able to gain control of his condition. Sterling, the most openly aggressive and confident in the war, uses this as his method to stay in control of the forever weighing war.

In the beginning of the book, Bartle opens with a tired and cryptic position about the war. He is in the middle of his service of the war, and he mentions how it was one of the several days that the war tried to kill him. It was just another day in his mind. Murph and Bartle are the middle of shootout against the enemy and just when he was about to panic, he remembers Murph.

”Murph’s breath was a steady comfort to my right. I had grown accustomed to it” Page 6.

Bartle uses Murph as a comfort during his time in war. His mindset the entire time, being depressed about the war and only trying to survive is his way of reacting to the condition he has been put in. Bartle is in a completely new world which he has no control over. But with Murph’s presence, he feels soothed. Murph is Bartle’s symbol of control. He initially starts out not knowing who Murph is, but uses Murph as his entire motivation to continue in the war. Behind almost every decision and thought he has, is Murph’s well being is in mind.

Aside from Bartle using Murph as a pacification for the change in his life, Sterling uses his own stamina. Sterling comes across as aggressive and unlikeable when he is first introduced. The condition that the war has caused for he and his comrades seem to be completely natural for him. This is why when Murph disappears and stops talking to the group, Sterling seems to be above addressing it. Bartle, worried and wanting to comfort Murph, is told to stop by Sterling.

“If you get back to the States in your head before your ass if there too, then you are fucking dead man. I’m you. You don’t where Murph keeps going, but I do.”-Sterling, page 156

In this quote, he bad mouths Murph for losing his own control of himself. Based on this, Sterling clearly understands the effects of what not adjusting to the changing world means. People will lose themselves. This is Sterling’s sense of control in the changing world. He puts off feeling the emotions and natural reactions of shooting a gun or seeing a decapitated body and takes it in stride instead. He sees Murph as an example of what could happen if the control is lost.

The effects of the changing world take a toll on Bartle’s life. Murph breaks down and ends up dying a gruesome death after he completely loses himself in the war; which in turn affects Bartle. Sterling and Bartle both do not want Murph’s body to return to the U.S. in such a condition and get rid of the body by dumping it in a river, which later lands Bartle in jail for the not returning the body. Bartle’s mind is in another place during these events. He doesn’t seem to care that he is in jail or what the world is like outside. When Murph’s mother comes to confront him, he feels unworthy of seeing her.

“I eventually accepted the fact that everything eventually falls away from everything else” page 217.

Bartle begins to question everything. Murph, his only symbol of control is gone, and now he is in a new environment where the only thing he can control is his mind. Bartle succumbs to the idea that everything is the way it is because of has to be. Regardless of the obstacles that interfere with destiny, nothing is permanent, not even the control he had over the change in his life.

Kevin Powers, the author, wrote Yellow Birds during his service in the war. His position on his participation and reasoning for being in the war is similar to Bartles, unsure. Despite the book being a work of fiction, Powers definitely expressed his stance on the changing world and himself.

I didn't know that I was allowed to be a writer. I thought of it as something other people were able to do. I knew that I liked writing, but that felt meaningless. We didn't have a ton of money, and I certainly wasn't going to get a scholarship of any kind. My high school sweetheart's father was an army recruiter. We're still in touch.

My dad had served in the army, and both my grandfathers had served in the Second World War. I was fairly idealistic at the time.”

It was never Kevin Powers’ plan to enlist in the army; he was expected to go. This expectation extended from several generations of his family. His father, a military veteran, and both of his grandfathers were veterans of World War II, the beaming expectation for him to enlist made him feel that he didn’t have a choice in the matter. This signified the first part of change and loss of control within his originally comfortable world. While only being in Iraq for a few months, Powers found serenity in writing. He would lock himself in his bunk and write about his experiences in the war as well as his particular mind frame. It is clear that Powers was not used to the change in his life, as he was already unwilling and unsure about himself being in the war from the beginning. Writing was his control mechanism, and he was about to write several different characters that either learned how they could keep control on lose it.  

The forever changing world only gives people to either accept or fall apart. When people realize their world finally changing, good or bad, finding control is the only method of staying complete and together. The characters Bartle, Murph and Sterling are all embodiments of the changing world and what happens when you lose control. Kevin Powers used his own talent to escape the world of war and the possible changes it would bring him. Taking control of something or someone is the only way to keep from falling apart.

Works Cited for Analytical Essay:

Powers, Kevin. The Yellow Birds: A Novel. New York: Little, Brown, 2012. Print

Whitman, Alice. "Printing - Kevin Powers, In and Out of Conflict - Interview Magazine." Printing - Kevin Powers, In and Out of Conflict - Interview Magazine. N.p., n.d. Web. 12 Jan. 2015. <>.

Life has always been pretty consistent. I’ve always expected for my days to be an ever repeating cycle until some brash or sudden miracle would occur  that would make a dramatic change for me. But this isn’t to go without saying that nothing earth shattering or different has happened in my life that hasn’t made me have to change who I am or how I think or do things.

A key moment in my life where I experienced change was when my mom gave away her car and she and I had to reduce to riding in a tiny truck to school and work every morning.

This change might seem miniscule or unparalleled to those changes faced by Kevin Powers (author of the Yellow Birds) and Bart (main character from the Yellow Birds), but to me the effect of the change is no different.

When I first realized I had to be in such a small and confined space every morning, I would complain and find any reason to make the ride more difficult than it had to be.

“Don’t worry, it’ll just be for the winter.” Mom would say.

But time went on. I realized this change was going to last for some time and I needed to gain a sense of control in a suffocating environment. This triggered me to crack the window a tiny bit every morning ride. When the window was cracked, I felt like a bit of the vast world was being invited into the small space within the car. It calmed my nerves and helped me forget about the uncomfortable predicament. No one seemed to notice this, except for once:

It was below zero outside and the cold hugged my lungs with big grandma hugs, making it hurt to breathe. Walking 20 feet to the car was hassle that made it feel like sudden deathe was in the midst. I went through the usual routine making sure the car window was cracked and ready for the ride. My mother turned the key ignition and the dark dashboard came to life. She waited for a few seconds and then turned the heat on. But she noticed something different.

The windows were becoming frosted. She turned to me and say “Put the window up, it’s making the windows foggy.”

I quickly began rolling the handing. I knew she would say that. Darn frost. I watched as the window inched it’s way to the end of the frame and then stopped. I didn’t let it reach all the way. I pressed my face against the window and looked closely into the tiny corner where the window had about a few centimeters to go; I kept it like that. If I had twined that handle bar anymore and I would have been on the road to insanity in the teeny tiny clown car. Mother had her windows unfrosted and I still had the window crack to keep me comfortable. We were both happy.

This control gave me the leverage to ignore and eventually accept the change in my life. Similar to both the situations Kevin Powers and Bart were in. Powers’ love for writing allowed him to create a world bigger than the war zone he lived in and Bart’s love for his best friend and need for him to survive gave him a reason for moving on in the war.

Ameer's Q2 Benchmark -- Changing World Essay

Quotes on the Book

On a large scale, the world changing has little impact on the outcome of the universe. Of the 7 billion people on earth, a person’s impact to the Earth has even smaller impact. While the impact a person has on the universe may be very little, as a collective group, the impact it has on the world in which they live is very large. However true this may be, their efforts are done without true purpose, and are for the most part, done for the sake of doing it. The truth of the matter is, in real life not everyone is a main character.  

Within the first couple of pages, the story that The Yellow Birds had constructed so far had begun to build up a character. It seemed like he wasn’t just any random character, but instead somebody with a name, and a family. Malik was a student of literature, indigenous to Iraq, and the university of which he studied closed. With little opportunity to further his education he turned to America to become a translator for the U.S. troops. Malik, on the side he thought just, putting himself and his family’s life on the line, died shortly after first meeting the troops. Malik died and that was that, as if his entire back story didn’t matter. “ I didn’t think about Malik much after that.” (pg. 12, Bartle). No one cared about the death of Malik. Even though he had left himself vulnerable, and became acquainted with them, in the end his life didn’t make any impact. A living being took use of his talents and services, but when all was said and done, nothing really would have changed that much if he wasn’t even there at all. He was forgotten about, anyhow.

In the author’s note of the book I pulled out a quote that leads to answering the question of what it was like in war “over there”. In answering this question the author noted that war was pretty much unique, being only like itself. While noticing war’s uniqueness, he also noticed something about people.  “People, however, are all the same...” (Reading group guide pg. 2, Authors Note). The author, Kevin Powers, explained that in order to understand what it was like “over there” you must first understand that essentially all experiences are the same. No matter how different our experiences may seem, we are all as alike as our “breath and blood”. There is very little difference in any task we perform, because it really is in no way unique or special. This raises the thought, everything is just a repetition of itself. If it has already been done or felt before, there is really no sake in doing it.

Taking a step back from main characters, and how not everyone is one, we can take a look at one of the main characters of the book. Looking at the character Murph, it is easy to decode a sense of acting without true purpose. Going through the war, ending a countless number of lives, he died. The young man still had much of his youth, he had a life to return to after the war, much more he could have accomplished. Still he died, and life would have to reshape itself around that fact. Though, life had not reshaped that much, because the only way to deal with his death was to pretend “like it never happened Bartle. That’s the only way.” (pg. 211, Sterling.) This is what Sterling said to Bartle after they witness their comrade's dead body floating down the river. Murph’s life must have been of little importance if the only way to deal with his passing was to erase his very being from the existence of the earth. All Murph had done in the war must really have been for nothing.

The author explains a sort of powerlessness in Bartle through a few interviews he had based on this book. Bartle was not able to be good. Out of this inability to do (whatever he thought was) good, it can be said that he did didn’t have the impact he wanted it to have. This specifically is not to say that he was completely impactless, but it does say to him that his actions were meaningless. The quote states, “the root of his guilt was that he wanted to be good, and he tried to be good, but he failed. His conflict is between his desire to redeem that failure and his acceptance of complete powerlessness.” Powerlessness accurately describes a person failure to impact, thus describing Bartle’s ultimate meaningless even as a main character. This article explains how little Bartle’s impact on the world was, while in another article he mentions how impactless everything is in relation to any other thing. In this article he says, “It's trying to allow for multiple things to be happening at the same time…” “to be very narrowly focused on the interior experience, but also to have a sense of expansiveness…” “I find this push-pull between the microscopic and the telescopic…” “I'm trying to evoke that clash of small and large scales, and the difficulties of locating oneself. I'm interested in, Where am I?” When answering the question of why he moved around a lot in the book, Kevin Powers answered with “difficulties of locating oneself.” This quote brings a realization that many things are happening at one time. There is no one point in time, no one place on a map. In this expansiveness of a collective of the Universe, there is no one person qualified to be a main character. Kevin powers wanted to answer the question “where am I” in writing this book, and during this process he choose to write about characters with complete powerlessness. He chose to write about people who, in the end never really mattered. He chose to do so because in finding one’s self, you find that you aren’t the most important person in the world. You find that in reality, you’re powerlessness has little impact in the grand scheme of things, despite where you are or where you may end up to be.

The point of the thesis is to help people understand that no one is really that special, and that while it may seem that someone’s life doesn’t have any meaning and may be pointless; it can become clearer to understand that no one’s life really has any meaning. Everyone is in the same boat. There is not true importance to meaningness, because in reality there is no true point to anything at all.

Works Cited

Kevin Powers, The yellow birds

"Kevin Powers, In and Out of Conflict." Interview Magazine. N.p., n.d. Web. 13 Jan. 2015.

"An Exclusive Interview with Kevin Powers, Poet and Iraq War Veteran, about His Debut Novel, The Yellow Birds." Foyles. N.p., n.d. Web. 12 Jan. 2015.

Personal Narrative

In the book the yellow birds, I became attached to a character in less than a page. I enjoyed this character, because even though I didn’t really know him, I didn’t really know the other characters either. I liked this character because he was something different. He wasn't just an ordinary U.S. Soldier. However,  just because I thought he was unique didn't mean he was important in any way and he died. This sort of thing I can relate to a special person who is no longer in my life. My mom's mom always made me call her Nana. She said because she didn't want me to call her grandmom because it made her sound old. I stressed to her that it made her sound older anyway. She ended up dying when I was young even though I didn't want her to. Now that I think about it, I think over all her contributions in life and how very little I can think of. To me her greatest contribution was making me happy, but what does that really mean to the world? I don't think that question really matters. Not everybody has to be a main character.

My Nana was about 20 years older than my mother. My mother is about 20 years older than me. When I was about five or six she was probably just leaving her 40’s. Despite her age she would watch cartoons with me every saturday I came over her house. We’d play a game of  Yu-Gi-Oh (cards) occasionally, because Yu-Gi-Oh was one of our favorite shows. She often called me sweet pea and called my mom shug (I thought of it as sugar). To me she was probably one of the sweetest old lady’s you could ever meet, but many would say she was neither sweet nor old. She smoked menthol lights and was one of the few people of the 21st century who still kept a tab at bars. She’d swear at least 100 times a day and didn’t bother to kill roaches when they crawled across her coffee. She was wonderful to me, and I would have fun every moment I spent with her, regardless of if we were at bingo or even a thrift store.

I went to live with my Nana around the middle of the first grade. My mom wanted to move out of her apartment but she had to save up some money first. There were only two bedrooms in the hose, and the one I slept in with my mom didn’t have a bed. The first night we slept there I was almost certain I would sleep on the floor. That’s when Nana made both of us bed cots from folding a blanket a couple of times. I thought it was genius, and that there was nothing my Nana didn’t know. Of course I couldn’t sleep without my night light, no matter how much it bothered the light sleeper, my mom. Around these times I never really thought of anyone as a main character. Life was about life, and I never really thought there was a purpose to it. However, as a child, my purpose never really important anyways. I always focused on the now.

Just around my middle school years was when Nana died. By that time the only real time I spent with her was when she was in the hospital or going to dialysis. Smoking caused her to have kidney failure, plus all the other  problems that came along with it. There were still times when we had fun, as though she was 40 again. I remember one time we wandered around Penn’s Landing. It was warm out with a black sky from the dark of night. That night was the fourth of July, and we had just gotten off the buss to see some fire works. The thing that stood out the most to me that night was not those fire works. However, it was the fact that Nana wasn’t wearing any shoes. There was broken glass all along the curb, and the asphalt was scorching when I knelt to feel it. Curious, I asked why she didn’t have shoes on. She said something I only vaguely remember. Something about her dialysis treatment and other things about her lungs and physical health. None of the glass or the hot asphalt bothered her, because her feet were so swollen from liquid she couldn’t really feel it. It was her bad kidney’s fault. Even though this was a completely horrible thing, in my child state of mind I thought it was cool. How hardcore would it be to feel numb to the pains of sharp objects and scorching surfaces. Despite how cool I thought she was; if I was bored the time I spent with her seemed pointless.

Up to her passing moment I felt it tedious to go to her hospital bedside. I felt gratitude in sleeping in the car while my mother was the only one to go in and visit. I remember the smile she had every time she saw me, and how she always talked about telling other old people about me. Still, as a child this did not make me want to hug her. I would smile with full attention for one second, and then quickly avert my attention to whatever I randomly felt like looking at. It isn’t as though I didn’t smile every time I saw her. It isn’t like I didn’t wish she would get better. Though, better to me meant at her house on a saturday morning playing a game of Yu-Gi-Oh. It isn’t like I didn’t cry at her funeral (though more so from the pressure of people expecting me to cry); but I wished for the rush of the casket to be in it’s grave when that time came. It’s because when that time came, my feet were starting to hurt, and the lengthiness of the funeral had become boring. I felt this way because as a child I always felt as though I was the main character without even thinking about it. It took maturing for me to realize life is not all about me.

Now as I am older I wish I had spent more time with my Nana. The details of her face are slowly fading away from my memory, and I wish I could have made her happier in her last moments. I could have brought a deck of Yu-Gi-Oh cards with me to the hospital. I could have watched cartoons with her as she lay there without visitors on a saturday morning. Maybe that would have made her want to live a little bit longer. Maybe she would have smoked a little bit less… because I don't’ remember her as the woman who smoked herself to her deathbed. I remember her as an old friend, Evelyn Harris, who loved me and became a child again every second I spent with her. Even though I feel as though neither of us was the main character; and that each of our existences on this earth is without true motive and pointless; we didn’t need a purpose to be happy.

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Self and the Changing World Essay

Analytical Essay:

Everyone has a past. Everyone is also emotionally connected to their past in some way or another. The past can be what one willingly holds onto or what one is forever haunted by. Either way, these emotional burdens, stemming from someone’s past, always have some sort of effect on their life going forward and the lives of those around them. In most situations, it can be what one uses to help make life altering decisions. The emotional burdens others carry around are often used as motivations in their everyday life, positively and negatively affecting everyone in their path along with themselves.

In the middle of war it makes sense for soldiers to hold onto their past, considering their present isn’t something anyone would want to be living and their future isn’t guaranteed. Lieutenant Jimmy Cross held onto Martha, a lover from his past in which he used as motivation to get through the war. This motivation soon turned into a distraction, which wasn’t what was best for him and his men in the middle of a war zone. “Trouble, he thought - a cave-in maybe. And then suddenly, without willing it, he was thinking about Martha.” (page 11) In this situation, Martha is no longer the motivation to help get him through the war, but is a distraction to take him away from it. Because Cross is not fully present in the middle of this raid, as his mind takes him away from it to think of Martha, one of his men are killed. Cross forever blames himself for the death of Ted Lavender and he now has to learn to deal with this guilt for the rest of his life, showing how the emotional burden from his past negatively affected his and Ted Lavender’s futures.

Making the decision to head to war is a hard one and without some sort of motivation one might never make it. Sometimes the patriotic need to protect one’s country is enough motivation in itself to enlist, but for Tim O’Brien this wasn’t the case. He didn’t believe in the war and found no need to take part in it, but the shame he would feel of himself and of his reputation after his family, friends, and hometown found out that he fled from the war was enough motivation for him. “And right then I submitted. I would go to the war - I  would kill and maybe die - because I was too embarrassed not to.” (page 59) O’Brien was already on the run when he made his decision, he could have avoided it all and was close to it. But the people from his past and what they might think of him became his emotional burden, motivating him into the war. There, though, he met new people, experienced new things, and made friendships to last a lifetime, showing how the emotional burden from his past did, in a way, positively affect his future.

Tim O’Brien’s life wasn’t just affected by that one emotional burden, but a few, that seemed to have a trickle down effect. First, once again, it was being drafted.“My conscience kept telling me not to go, but my whole upbringing told me I had to. That horrible summer made me a writer. I don't know what I wrote. I've still got it, reams of it, but I'm not willing to look at it. It was just stuff - bitter, bitter stuff, and it's probably full of self-pity. But that was the beginning.''  The first emotional burden of thinking about being drafted motivated O’Brien to become a writer. It started it all. Then, when in doubt, the emotional burden of what his reputation would be if he fled caused for him to go to the war. There, he experienced things and people in which whose stories he could then let live on through his writing. Without either of these burdens many soldiers’ stories would have never been told.

War is a terrible thing, but surviving it can sometimes be even worse. For most survivors, war itself is enough of an emotional burden to affect their futures. Things they’ve seen and things they’ve done can’t be erased and it can replay in their minds for the rest of their lives. This can be a deadly past to have haunt someone. Norman Bowker was dealing with this burden every day since the war. The death of his war buddy, Kiowa, hit him hard and he never recovered. “ “Speaking of Courage” was written in 1975 at the suggestion of Norman Bowker, who three years later hanged himself in the locker room of a YMCA in his hometown in Central Iowa.” (page 155) This situation has its good and its bad. The emotional burden of the war left Norman in such a bad state that suicide became an option, one that he took, showing how it all had affected his life in such a negative way. But at the same time, the burden helped him motivate O’Brien to write a book full of the war stories Norman thought people had to know. After the war, O’Brien receives a letter from Norman Bowker describing how he doesn’t know how to make his life meaningful after the war. It also included the suggestion for him to write “Speaking of Courage”, telling the stories of good men who could no longer tell them themselves. Norman’s emotional burden did have some positive effects on the lives of others.

Sometimes the past is there to help, and sometimes, to haunt. In all scenarios, though, its effects are inevitable. The emotional burdens can positively and negatively affect someone’s life, and can sometimes even cause something bad for one but great for another. Either way, these burdens from the past can’t be escaped, whether it’s the person holding onto them, or, the person running from them. But it is always up to the person on how they will allow their past to affect and motivate their future.

Narrative Essay:

Entering the front door, I already knew what it was. Before I even seen the ripped up envelope on the counter addressed to my name, or the thick letter, folded into three sections, in his hand, I knew. I could just tell by the look on his face. I had never seen him so happy or so proud. This was supposed to be what I wanted, but I couldn’t shake that feeling of wishing that letter had got lost in the mail, wishing that it would never reach my house so I would not have to deal with the choice that was about to be laid out for me.

Ever since I was little I looked up to my father. I wanted to be everything he was and everything he wanted. One of the two I seemed to strive to accomplish early, whereas the other, I would never be able to.

My father is smart, he always was. And I wanted to be just like him. My father admired it. I think it’s because he feels he had created the monster. I remember, probably as clear as he does, my tiny, toddler body always crawling my way to his book shelves filled with all his old college books. Sitting on the fuzzy carpet in the living room, legs spread, back against the wall, book in lap covering my entire body, I pretended to know what the words said. Flipping through pages and spending enough time on each to make one actually question whether or not I understood some of it. He would tell my mother that I would grow up to be smart. I never had much trouble accomplishing that part, but the fact that besides wanting me to be smart, wanting me to have been a son made it impossible to please him.

Basketball shorts, a t-shirt, sneakers, along with my hair in the ponytail that it never left, was the everyday attire. Choosing to wrestle or throw the football around with the boys on the street while ignoring all the little girls having so much fun with their dolls as my dad watched from the step became a habit. He was as proud as my mother was appalled at the sight of my scraped knees, especially when I was forced to show them in the few occasions I had to wear a dress. But as hard as I tried to be the son that he wanted, there were always those incidents in which I would come running to him crying about something that apparently a little boy just would’ve shaken off, causing for the constant 8 words, “It would’ve been so much easier with sons”. My sister paid no mind to it, but every time he said it was a constant reminder that that was just something I could never achieve.

So I had to stick with being smart and trying my very best in school while also doing good in sports, even though he’d much rather be going to boys’ basketball games, to make him happy, and I did. But even that seemed to get old to him after a while. Running home with another honor roll ribbon on report card day or with stories from the game after a great win went from being responded to with such praise and interest to little “Good Jobs!” just to get me to shut up. Sometimes I wondered if he even realized how hard I tried at everything and just for him. It all never seemed to be good enough. And that is what seem to put a dent in our relationship.

I went from telling him every perk from my day to barely saying a word to him. I don’t even know if he noticed the change. His eyes still never left his laptop in which he worked on all hours of the day, and sometimes I felt that he was relieved he could now avoid the after school conversations in which he would have to pretend to care about. We began to fight about everything, we couldn’t even be in the same room as one another at times. Everyone else in the family said it was because we were the same person and that we were too much alike. This only made me want to show everyone that they were wrong. I now wanted to be nothing like him, which makes little sense saying out loud considering I still continued to do everything he wanted of me, always secretly trying to impress him, only now acting as if I could care less if he noticed. And for this I would never understand. Why I would still want to be like and impress someone who I had grown to hate at times was beyond me.

Our relationship only got worse, but I couldn’t shake the old habit of always feeling the need to impress him or make him proud. What he thought of me was in my head with every decision I made. But I was getting older now, and the decision began to get harder. Impressing him began to conflict with what I wanted.

It was the end of eighth grade now and the transition to high school was all anyone could talk about. The excitement of being in someplace new along with the expectations caused by the constant reminder from anyone looking back trying to relive the better days that “High school are the best years of your life!” made the last few months of grade school seem so long. But I sometimes tended to be more conflicted than excited. The best friends that I had grown up had known since the start of their schooling that they would attend Saint Neumann and Goretti high school to further the Catholic education we had since kids, but my parents were never really sure what they wanted me to do. But my father became very sure of it really fast. He became set on the idea of me going to a Science Leadership Academy in which I would know no one and essentially be surrounded with nerds, but “would receive the best education around”.

Then the letter came. I applied figuring I probably wouldn’t get in, always doubting. Just seeing his face I knew I got in. I hated the idea of it. I wanted to spend the best years of my life with my friends, but the habit of impressing him in the past became a burden I couldn’t shake. It still affected every decision I made, and it wouldn’t be any different for this one. I told him I would go without even thinking, the words just came out.

A junior now, getting straight A’s at one of the best schools around and having the best colleges as real possibilities for myself makes me realize that the choice I had made on the spot, without thinking, years ago had turned out to be a good one. High school is turning out to be some of the best years of my life by still being as close as ever with my Catholic school friends, and by also making some new ones with the “nerds” in which I never would have expected. It turns out that burden from my father had motivated me to make a decision that not only made us both happy in the end, but one that would be responsible for all of the positive things that happen in my future.


Net Neutrality/// Gerveni

​Net neutrality is very important. Why? It's because it teaches teens about the internet. It teaches them more than they think they know the internet. Net neutrality is when all data is produced equally to everyone. Net neutrality is treating the internet equally. The internet is a mess and we need net neutrality to organize it.

Net neutrality reads the ISP. ISP (Internet Service Provider) is a company that provides you with access to the Internet for a fee. ISPs are middle men. ISPs receive the internet and sell it to customers for higher prices. They shorten the speed and its access. The more you pay, the faster your internet.

The FCC (The Federal Communications Commission) is a government created agency. The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) regulates interstate communications by radio, television, wire, satellite and cable. It is an independent U.S. government agency overseen by Congress. Its works on facing economic opportunities and challenges associated with advances in global communications. Provides leadership in strengthening the defense of the nation's communications infrastructure.

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Analytical Essay:

One’s self is determined directly by the world around them. The self, a person's conscience, is built off of how the person reacts to the changing world. If the person is reactionless to the changes around them than there consciousness is built off of the impact that these changes have brought to their lives. Either by reaction or lack thereof the self is constantly being forced to change. Theses changes can be extreme or very miniscule but ultimately no one can escape them because they are what makes each and every individual who he or she is.

What is the changing world? It is everything that affects an individual. Every decision that they make or that is made for them. Whether they decided to get out of bed at 7:50 rather than 6:50, or if their mom made pancakes instead of waffles. Every moving second of an individual's life makes up the changing world. There is not a single moment where the world does not change. This is why the changing world is so crucial in determining a person’s self. How they deal with the small changes such as losing a favorite toy when they are younger coincidentally is similar to how they would deal with major changes such as the loss of a loved one or even getting their car stolen.

One can be affected by huge changes in the changing world in two different ways. By either reacting to a change, or by the impact that the change brought on their life. Both ways leave the individual completely anew. For example, in the book the The Things They Carried when one of Sergeant Jimmy Cross’s soldiers were shot and killed he reacted to this change by erasing his emotional attachment to a girl back home named Martha. “Jimmy Cross crouched at the bottom of his foxhole and burned Martha’s letters”. (pg23) This reaction to death changed the self of Jimmy Cross. He was now a more stringent leader. He “He was now determined to perform his duties firmly and without negligence… On the march he would impose strict field discipline. He would be careful to send out flank security, to prevent straggling or bunching up, to keep his troops moving at the proper pace and at the proper interval. He would insist on clean weapons. He would confiscate the remainder of Lavender's dope.” (pg25)  This new mentality was forced upon the sergeant by this new change is his world.

On the other hand the more subliminal effect of the changing world is also demonstrated in the book. In the same scenario, the other soldiers under Cross’s command are a bewildered but they do not react to the change. When one of the soldiers utters "Oh shit, the guy's dead. I mean really" (Pg13) after examining the body it shows that he has dealt with this change by accepting the reality of it. This changed the self by making it more mentally prepared to handle situations similar to the death of a comrade. Also, by the author using the phrase to end the scene really stressed the how the self dealt with this change.

The author Tim O’Brien constantly showed in the book connections between the self and the changing world. He did this through stories which were sometimes true and sometimes fabricated. When asked in an interview about this he said “Stories, retold, carry the force of legend.” What the author is saying is that the legend in the stories is changed based on what the storyteller wants to portray. This portrayal is directed to the self of the person being told the story. In this example the changing world is the story being told in different variations to stimulate a different change in the self of the person.

A changing world will always force the change of the self. This is portrayed extensively in the book as well as in interview with the author. Through the examples provided one can see the dependency, because in a world that is constantly changing the self will always react or deal with these changes.  

Works Cited for Analytical Essay:

O'Brien, Tim. The Things They Carried. New York, NY: Houghton Mifflin, 1990. Print.

Bourne, Daniel, and Shostak, Debra. "A Conversation with Tim O'Brien." The College of Wooster. October 2, 1991. Web. October 20, 2009.

Narrative Essay:

“It is hard to get an A at SLA” where Mrs. Martin’s words to me on the first day at this new school.

Catholic is nothing like public school. It was very straightforward. Go to school, and do all my homework, and do well on the test. Just like that high academic achievement was easily attained by me during my time there. I was in my own world, and nothing could have prepared me for my recent transferal from catholic school to public school. I was astonished. The sheer freedom that the public school students received over catholic school students blew my mind. Things like: no dress code, freedom to eat in class, and non-assigned seats were very new to me. Coming from this hardcore and strict background I was got carried away and began to procrastinate on my work at this new school. What happened to me was, this change in my world required me to change my self in order to progress. Instead I let the change happen without me reacting to it and it lead to various issues with my teachers during my first few weeks.

The biggest and most important change that I faced was the change in how work was given and graded. Previously assignments at catholic school were very straightforward. My new school called Science Leadership Academy, where everything is project based really was new to me. Due to my lazy attitude towards school I put almost all of the first assignments and projects off to the last minute. This impacted my first quarter report card severely where I received a C in math which has constantly been my most consistent grade throughout high school, with an high A.

After that first quarter report card I realized that I never reacted to the change of my new school, and all I did was just deal with it. I thought back to my conversation with Mrs. Martin. I thought of the mountain of work it required to excel here and almost caved in from the challenge. I came to the conclusion that my grades were receiving a hit because of two reasons: Handing in assignments on time and the quality of the assignments I hand it.

To improve my grades I had to react to this change and change my self. I had to put more time into papers I write making sure that they are thorough. I had to not lose homework papers and write neater. Rushing was now off the table for me, everything I now did for school I took my time and gave a one hundred percent effort.

Through this monumental change in my life during my critical junior year my world change around me. I thought just allowing it to happen would be the best way to cope, but I was wrong. I found out later that I had react to the change in my world. My self was changed through this experience I was now a more productive student and that will definitely help me get to the college of my dreams.