Paper 1. Handout The Things They Carried
Attached Files: Paper 1 The Things They Carried.docx (15.362 KB)
Assignment 1: Tim O’Brien’s The Things They Carried
Length: 5 pages (plus Works Cited page); Submitted through
Blackboard. (Please attach your paper as a Word or PDF)
Choose two or three Tim O’Brien short stories covered in class. You probably should reread the story (or stories) several times to be familiar
with the narrative, characters and themes. The paper should be about a theme that interests you. (Some possible themes include: courage,
alienation, group identity, ghosts, death, friendship, revenge, storytelling, etc.) Once you’ve chosen a theme, start to think about how O’Brien
conveys it? You should consider plot, story structure, language, character, and metaphor. (Remember: the paper is 5 pp, so you may only need
to examine one or two of these themes.)
Consider one of the following questions to help you formulate a thesis:
1) How do ghosts function as a metaphor in “The Things They Carried,” “Speaking of Courage,” or “The Lives of The Dead”?
2) What is the significance of place in “The Things They Carried” “The Sweetheart of Song Tra Bong,” or “Speaking of Courage”?
3) What is O’Brien saying about storytelling in “How to Tell a War Story,” and/or “The Lives of The Dead”?
4) In “How to Tell a Good War Story,” what does O’Brien mean when he writes “a thing my happen and be a total lie; another thing
may not happen and be truer than the truth” (p 83) and how might that statement also apply to “The Sweetheart of The Song Tra
Bong” or “The Lives of The Dead”?
5) What does “The Sweetheart of The Song Tra Bong” and “The Things They Carried” say about the transformative power of war?
IMPORTANT: Your paper must have a thesis-a guiding, arguable point that you are trying to make. It is important to remember that in
examining and discussing a theme, you are trying to make a point. All evidence that you supply from the text must relate to your thesis and
advance your argument. I want you to be authoritative and focused. Tell me about those aspects of the story that bolster your argument, and do
not waste space telling me how much you like the story. Don’t waste time summarizing unnecessary plots or describing minor characters. Any
plot summaries should be brief and integral to providing context for your thesis. Direct quotes, on the other hand, provide compelling
Show knowledge of the names of characters and author. Use present tense, include a bibliography as learned in English 101 and make sure all
quotes are correctly attributed (using MLA parenthetical method of author and page number). To help with writing, grammar, and citation and
bibliography, consult a writing handbook (I’ve posted one on blackboard) and/or http://owl.english.purdue.edu/ (a great resource for all your
writing needs). Remember: An unattributed quote or idea (from any source) is plagiarism and grounds for class failure.
Your paper should be 5 pages, plus a Works Cited page, double-spaced, titled and numbered as shown in the MLA formatting handout posted
on Blackboard. Pay attention to technical errors: I don’t want to be distracted from your ideas. Inattention to grammar undermines your
attempts to inform and enlighten; it also lowers the grade of your paper.