Wednesday, October 15, 2014

Exploration 5: Lilyan Eldadah

The story that has meant the most to me so far in The Things They Carried by Tim O’Brien was the chapter “On the Rainy River” because he expressed himself thoroughly and really got through to the reader. At one point of the book when O'Brien is talking about being at the boarder to Canada he says, “Would you do it? Would you jump? Would you feel pity for yourself? Would you think about your family and your childhood and your dreams and all you're leaving behind? Would it hurt? Would it feel like dying? Would you cry? Would you cry as I did?” (O’Brien 54). This part of the chapter really helped me connect to the story and made me feel like I was part of the book, and I really liked it. In the chapter he repeatedly said that he has never told this story before and how he was really embarrassed about the story, so that made it more emotional and helped the reader understand/see the differences and similarities between young Tim O'Brien and old Tim O’Brien. I also really liked the character Elroy Berdahl because he was very persistent and self-controlled.

Like I said in the previous paragraph, the character I connected with the best so far was Elroy Berdahl, the old man in charge on the Tip Top Lounge from the chapter “On the Rainy River” because he helped and cared for young Tim O'Brien and helped him from making a terrible mistake, by only saying a few words.  Berdahl was described as “self-controlled” which I could connect to because I would rather keep to myself instead of judging someone else or being unkind. I always try to help people when they need assistance, which also connected me with Berdahl because even though O'Brien didn't need help Berdahl stuck by his side, mentally, and helped figure out what to do by saying so little.

Something I took away from my active reading about a specific convention of narrative, which I would like to point out, was O'Brien’s use of sensory details. Once we began looking for sensory details in our active reading, I felt like in every page there were examples of all times of sensory details; sight, sound, touch, and smell. For example: “The afternoon was sunny and cold. A stiff breeze came in from the north, and I remember how the little fourteen-foot boat made sharp rocking motions as we pushed off from the dock. The current was fast. All around us, there was a vastness to the world, and unpeopled rawness, just the trees and the sky and the water reaching out toward nowhere. The air had the brittle scent of October” (O’Brien, 52). Just in this one quote there are sight, sound, and scent details, which is amazing how he could contribute all those sensory details and make the quote flow so smoothly.

In the chapter “On the Rainy River”, Tim O'Brien says:
“Courage, I seemed to think, comes to us in finite quantities, like an inheritance, and by being frugal and stashing it away and letting it earn interest, we steadily increase our moral capital in preparation for that day when the account must be drawn down. It was a comforting theory. It dispensed with all those bothersome little acts of daily courage; it offered hope and grace to the repetitive coward; it justified the past while amortizing the future” (O’Brien 38).

This quote really struck me and I really liked it. I like they way he explains what he thought courage was because it helped me see how he understood and practiced courage. This quote was emotional and well written.


  1. i agree that Tim O'brien is very good at using sensory details in his writing. It;s like every paragraph he writes just comes to life from the detail and description.

  2. I agree with both you and grant, his use of sensory details is simply extraordinary. That's one of my favorite parts about reading this book, finding different uses of senses that I can apply into my own writing.


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