The Imagery In The Things They Carried
In Tim O’Brien’s The Things They Carried, The narrator’s attitude in this passage from “The Man I Killed” shows a great deal of compassion because of his explanation on how the man he killed was not an average soldier, but was more of a young and gentle scholarly soldier. The compassion of the speaker toward the man is mainly by O’Brien’s use of imagery. He displays how imagery is shown in the way the victim’s body is displayed following his death. The imagery created by the dead body’s position, and the full detailed explanation of the background is demonstrated with diction, including how the speaker makes the victim appear feminine, by using words like “dainty” and “Poorly muscled”. This creates compassion for the victim as he appears to be one who could not defend himself and continues the imagery being created for the reader. Further, he describes the victim as being “smooth and hairless” which implies youth. He goes on to say that maybe the victim was a “scholar” which again provides word choice that makes him less of a soldier, and more like a delicate person who was pushed into war.
The narrator is showing his compassion toward the dead character by creating sympathy through the images being established. The imagery of the victim continues the same delicate idea as the speaker shows his compassion by describing the clothes he was wearing and “black pajama pants” is not typical of soldier attire, but more like a child in a soldiers shoes. He was wearing a gray ammunition belt over his pajamas, just like the image of a child playing army with his favorite toy. The imagery of his appearance shows the compassion the speaker had toward the victim as the “fingernails were clean” which is a detail to illustrate how the person was not an outdoorsmen, but more so a young intellectual. The narrator used repetition of this image to ensure the reader understood the importance of his youthful appearance. This continues the compassion shown by the narrator as a dead child is far more disturbing of an image than a soldier. The use of imagery proves how the narrator was being led by pure compassion. The compassion is appropriate as the main character is dealing with the death of a child-like soldier who had his life before him. The gentle words being used, tied with the imagery of a young soldier provides necessary details to show the compassion the narrator provides in the story
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