In the chapter, Ambush, Tim O’Brien remembers what it was like to kill a man in the Vietnam War. Even though O’Brien knew he was in a situation where he would have to kill a man or he might be killed, he was not prepared for the negative psychological effects it would have on him. He describes clearly what the man was wearing and what was happening before he killed him. Before he even realized what he was doing, he pulled the pin out of the grenade and tossed it at the man. The man tries to outrun the grenade, but realizes he could not escape. Giving up all hope, he turns, covers his face, but realizes it is too late. The young Vietnamese soldier’s body is severely dismembered, which causes O’Brien to breakdown. He imagines who the person was that he just killed, and is disturbed about all the other people who would be upset by the loss of the man he just killed.
This chapter in The Things They Carried is similar to the two scenes in Saving Pvt. Ryan. The first being when the squad comes up on their first german bunker. Their medic gets shot multiple times by an MG 42 and there was only one german left alive. The German man begs for forgiveness, a chance to be a better person. The translator in the group fights to let this man live but all the others think he will just join up with the next squad of germans he finds. They let the man live and threaten to kill him if he is ever seen again. Later in the end of the movie the squad is holding a last stand on a bridge and everyone is being killed and blown up. The translator is the last man alive when air force blows up the tanks and the men start to flee. The translator comes out to see the same german man is out there with other German soldiers and he had shot the commanding officer and how he had made a terrible mistake. He pulls up his rifle and kills the man. Much like O’brian was hoping this man let the opposing soldier live he was going to do wrong again no matter what.