The Self And The Changing World Essay

Analytical Essay:

In today's world, everything is constantly changing. Money is becoming of lesser value, gas prices are going up, new laws are being made and unemployment rates rising. As the world changes, people change too. It’s the natural order of things, humans do what they can to fend for themselves. In the book, “The Things They Carried” by Tim O’brien, a message of the changing world and the self is conveyed through experiences by a group of characters in the army. In this book there are cases in which the world continues to change in different ways, and as it does it shifts and develops human thinking to survive and adapt for the self along with it.

Jimmy cross, a character in the book, The Things They Carried, is a lieutenant with a lot of responsibility on his hands. He is in charge of a group of army men in a division called Alpha Company. Cross had good intentions from the start when it came to his men but became unsure how to truly lead them after suffering through the loss of two members of his team. Ted Lavender and Kiowa. A passage from the book reads, “Jimmy cross remembered the kids face but not the name. That happened sometimes. He tried to treat his men as individuals but sometimes the names just escaped him.”(Pg. 172) Jimmy Cross, before coming to the army could have lived an average life, but has went through the torment of losing the men he was assigned to lead and protect. He thus has been altered by the changing world and now has a lot of things under his belt which in turn has changed the way he treats people. His men may have started off as Individual people to him, but through that experience it seems names have become less important to him, his thinking on his men has thus changed. He sees them now as only that, men in the army. This hardened attitude is his way of adapting to the change, his way of not having to experience the pain of losing “his men” anymore. Losing his men changed the way he thought of the remaining of his men in the army.

Bob “Rat” Kiley, the platoons medic, is much respected by Tim O’Brien for the way he handles his job as a medic. Rat is usually a level headed and kind man, but over time the war took its toll on him. One day while Rat and another medic assigned with him on an assignment, Mark Fossie, were waiting for Fossie’s girlfriend to answer the door. Rat expressed his distrust for the girl. “Rat shook his head. He said to Fossie, “Your decision. I was you, though, no way i’d mess around with any greenie types, not for nothing.”” (Pg. 108) Rat begins to let the weight and stress of the war weigh down on him. His trust in people begins to waiver and it shows in this quote. He notices that he needs to adapt to protect himself as he shifts along with the changing world and that doesn’t leave much room for anyone else. He brings out to Mark that he wouldn’t “mess around” with any greenie, knowing that Mary Anne is marks beloved girlfriend. Rat it appears, though, has let the world shape his thinking in that he has lost trust for certain people, and she is one of them. He let the changing world impact his thought process with this girl developing his human thinking.

Mary Anne Belle, Mark Fossie’s high school sweetheart, although Mary appears to arrive to vietnam in total innocence, she develops a respect for death and the darkness of the jungle. According to legend she retreats and disappears there. Unlike Martha, who is just a fantasy for Jimmy Cross, Mary is very real for Mark and her change is one that shatters his world and hers both. Mark and Rat were waiting for Mary Anne to come out when, “.. She stepped out of the shadows. At least for a moment she seemed to be the same pretty young girl who had arrived a few weeks earlier.” (Pg. 110) Mary Anne has it hinted about her in this quote that she has changed as a person since her arrival at the military base in Vietnam. She, as the quote brings out, was at a time a pretty young girl but it can be inferred that she has changed and is no longer that person she was because of the words "at least for a moment" implying change. Mary Anne's heart hardened due to the truth of war, and this result changed not only her but in effect made Mark Fossie a sader soul as well. This is another case of the world around a person changing their way of thinking and thus changing, ultimately, the person themselves.

Tim O’brien, the main character narrator and protagonist of the novel, is also the author of the book. In an interview with Sawyer Scott about his output on his book The Things They Carried he says, "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. You're back home with your girlfriend, eating a nice dinner at the Ritz instead of C-rations."(Interview 2) Imagination is important, it is the brains way of escaping reality, helping humans dream the impossible. After all, imagination is thinking and that positive thinking or imagination can be changed if the world around you changes in a negative way before your very eyes and vise versa. Trapped in the horror of Vietnam, is how Tim felt until the world around him changed, and he was able to clear his mind and focus better on other things. This again shows when the world around us is changing, as humans we must change our thinking to change with the world.

Works Cited for Analytical Essay:

"Tim O'brien Interview." N.p., n.d. Web.

"The Things They Carried." By Tim O'Brien. 1998 N.p., n.d. Web. 12 Jan. 2015.

"Robot Check." Robot Check. N.p., n.d. Web. 12 Jan. 2015.

Narrative Essay:

One hundred bucks is crazy money in my book. One hundred bucks can’t even afford some jeans out there, though, to put it in hindsight, and I use to wonder why money was such an important material to people. It’s pretty obvious now, money is power. And power changes people. I think back to an experience of a close cousin of mine. He and I were pretty close growing up, he is a few years older than me and lived in North Carolina but we made it work. Every year, three times a year,  my intermediate family and I would take the trip down to NC to see him and our other relatives.

My cousin, JeMario, was a good natured person, a very kind and thoughtful personality who happened to have a keen talent for music. He played the bass for as long as I can remember, and he was always pretty great at it but honestly I would have never thought he could get famous off of playing the bass. But he was talented, so much so, that one year while we were staying “down south”, as my mom referred to the trip to NC, his mother influenced him to join, a at the time popular musical career jump starting show, MTV’s Making A Band. He did and through the course of the show he survived every round up until it was just him and one other male in the finals. In the final round he did not get enough votes to win and lost to other guy, but it wasn’t a total loss he had been noticed by a lot of people for his talent on the bass instrument. A few weeks after he returned home he got a call from two big names in the media, Tyler Perry and Bruno Mars. Mr. Perry wanted my cousin to play bass for his plays, while Bruno wanted him to play bass for his live band. My cousin, being young and into Bruno Mars music, decided to go with the offer from Bruno. He left for California and began recording music and touring with Bruno. I was happy with his decision being a fan of Bruno Mars myself and I have been proud of my cousin ever since. But he isn’t the same person he was when he left that year, I believe being around the spotlight, something he was very uncommon to living in a small town in North Carolina, changed him thoroughly.

The summer after he left to go on tour, I remember hearing from my aunt JeMario was going to be in town when we went on our annual down south trip. I was overjoyed to hear this it had been a year. The first time I caught a sight of my star studded cousin back home I couldn’t tell if it was him or some clone that dressed better, sounded different, and acted different but looked exactly like him. I could hardly hear his southern accent anymore. I remember the first conversation we had when he came back, “Yo cuz! You're a big shot now huh?”

“Yeah little cousin out here making this money man.” He responded to me.

“Wow. All I know is.. That haircut is bad real bad Michael Jackson, should probably never get that again?” We both laughed.

“It’s whatever man. I got it cause’ it’s what everyone got.”

“Well, everyone else does not look good on you man.”

“Looking like everyone else is what makes you relatable and famous and paid. And that’s all that matters.”

“What man? Forget the money. Forget how you look, you got that suspect jacket on.. Wearing that is not worth all the money in the world” I laughed, “You're on tour with Bruno Mars... That must be like living a dream or something”

“Ain’t no dream unless I’m getting paid little cousin, you must not understand that money is all that matters in this business and whatever you gotta do to get it. I got the talent now I’m just looking to get much as I can man.”

JaMario wasn’t the same. I could feel it the moment I saw him, there was something off about him. His once pert and lively character had abandoned him. The glory lifestyle took it’s toll on him much sooner than anyone could have expected. JaMario had let the changes in the world around him affect his being, he went from being a kind content heart to a cold one endlessly searching for more.

Comments (2)

Jesse Shuter (Student 2016)
Jesse Shuter
  1. The opening paragraph grabbed me because you started off by making a very big claim and I wanted to hear you out.
  2. I learned that you have a cool famous cousin (in addition to Matt Forte of course) and that you learned a lot from him especially about changing personalities.
  3. I likes how you analyzed a different character in each paragraph of your analysis, it was an interesting decision.