In “The Things They Carried” in the chapter “The Man I Killed” Tim O’Brien is forced to kill a Vietnamese soldier. Tim feels terrible at it and he just keeps staring at the body. In Tim’s mind he just keeps wondering about who the man he killed is and what he was like.
In the beginning of “The Man I Killed” Tim is describing what the man he killed looks like now. “ His jaw was in his throat, his upper lip and teeth were gone, his one eye was shut, his other eye was shaped like a star-shaped hole, his eyebrows were thin and arched like a woman’s, his nose was undamaged, there was a slight tear at the lobe of one ear, his clean black hair was swept upward into a cowlick at the rear of the skull, his forehead was lightly freckled, his fingernails were clean, the skin at his left cheek was peeled back in three ragged strips, his right cheek was smooth and hairless, there was a butterfly on his chin, his neck was open to the spinal cord and the blood there was thick and shiny and it was this wound that killed him.” Tim O’Brien goes into such detail about the man he killed because he can’t get it out of his head because he feels so guilty. Kiowa keeps telling Tim that he has to stop staring at the body and that they need to go, but Tim just wants to stare at the body. Throughout the chapter Tim keeps thinking of different scenarios of who the man he killed was and what his life was like. I think this really only makes Tim feel worse because it makes him think about what the man lost and people who have lost him. This chapter had a lot of detail about everything and it really made it more interesting and I felt like I was there with Tim O’Brien.
A story I related “The Man I Killed” to was “Charlie St. Cloud”. In “Charlie St. Cloud” two brothers get in a car accident and only one survives. Charlie the oldest brother flatlined but he survived, Sam the younger brother however doesn’t survive. This changes Charlie whole life, he stopped hanging out with friends, he didn’t go to college, and he didn’t act the same. Like Tim O’Brien with the other soldier, Charlie can’t get the death of his brother out of his head. Both of them feel very at fault for this, in Tim O’Brien’s case he really did kill the Vietnamese soldier and in Charlie St. Cloud’s case he didn’t kill his brother but he feels like it was his fault. Neither one of them should feel like they did something wrong because there was nothing they could do.
“The Man I Killed” was a very interesting story that had really captivating details. I think the biggest theme here is that you can’t blame yourself for something you had no control over. Both of these characters let themselves feel at fault when they did nothing wrong. “The Man I Killed” gave you a more personal look at the way men in war may feel when they are forced to kill someone.