Discussion questions – The Things They Carried: Chapter 15-22
1. Do you believe that the characters in The Things They Carried experience moral injury? Provide specific examples. How do those characters cope or not cope with their moral injury?
2. Many veterans say that returning from war is actually more difficult than being in the war itself. Why might this be true?
3. In the chapter “Notes”, O’Brien writes, “By telling stories, you objectify your own experience. You separate it from yourself. You pin down certain truths. You make up others. Your start sometimes with an incident that truly happened, like the night in the shit field, and you carry it forward by inventing incidents that did not in fact occur but that nonetheless help to clarify and explain.” Think about your own writing. Does O’Brien’s description of writing about personal experience resonate with your own experience? Why or why not?
4.In The Things They Carried, O’Brien often tells the same story multiple ways. He writes, “I want you to know why story-truth is truer sometimes than happening-truth”. After finishing the book, do you agree with him? Why or why not?
5.Why do you think that O’Brien ends The Things They Carried by talking about Linda’s death from the brain tumor?