Crisis, Conflict, and the Importance of Perspective


The Things They Carried

The things they carried, as the title suggests is a descriptivestory of what the American soldiers carried in the battle field. Theauthor vividly describes everything that the soldiers carried such asthe bible, ammunition, ponchos and emotional luggage. The author,O’Brien is one of the soldiers in the Vietnam War and is giving hisperspective of the war. He describes how their leader, Cross isaffected by his worries of whether Martha, his lover is a virgin ornot. This makes the leader, Cross o abandon the soldiers which leadsto the death of Lavender. The reading is a collection of 22 storiesthat are chronicled in such a way that it looks like a single story.Whereas the story is a fiction story, research has indicated that thenames of the people or the characters in the stories are indeed real(O`Brien, 1990). The perspective of the war and conflict given in thebook is extremely vital in the study of stories and creativeleadership.

O’Brien has demonstrated in the story how the soldiers in Vietnamwere in tension throughout the mission. This is because the soldiersdid not know when they would die. Their leader, Cross, always blamedhimself for the deaths of the soldiers and believed that he shouldhave done more to protect the soldiers. However, it is essential tonote that the soldiers are said to be relaxed and even played gamesin the battle field (O`Brien, 1990). The death of one soldierincreased the tension in the camp. In the words of the author, hedescribes the soldiers as being crazy when they considered that theymight die anytime. The perspective given by the author is that ofwhat actually happens in the battle field (Bloom, 2011). The authorasserts that the journalists are at times spinning the story andpresenting what they want the readers and the viewers to believe.

According to the author, the soldiers could be differentiated by thethings each one of them carried. For instance, the medic in the armycarried medicines such as those for malaria. There is even a soldierwho carried a finger from a killed Vietcong and believed it was agun. It is clear from the reading that there were some soldiers whocarried photos of their girlfriends. The author states that the warwas not about terror and violence. There was peace in the battlefield and the soldiers were even bored. In other words, the author ofthis book of short stories tries to offer a good perspective of thewar (O`Brien, 1990). His view of the war is not about terror andviolence, but it is about how the soldiers would befriend an old manor give chocolate bars to a young boy with a wounded leg. This is aperspective of the war that is different from what many people maythink regarding war especially the one in Vietnam. The author toucheson matters of love such as the one by Cross towards Martha. These arewar perspectives which are hardly discussed.

The author gives his view and asserts that America did not have togo to the Vietnam War. In other words, the author does not findenough reason why America went into the Vietnam War and he feels thathe should not be part of the war (O`Brien, 1990). This is a true warstory that is told by soldier who was in the war front. The accountsof the story and the deaths of the soldier are horrific. Althoughthis story is a fiction story, it is clear that the story is worthstudying. It is a fiction story that has been told clearly andvividly by the author. The chronology of the story and the trueperspective of the war in Vietnam is an effective strategy of tellinga story (Nagel, 2004). The short stories arrangement makes the entirestory readable and interesting. The importance of perspective is thatit offers a different view on the crisis or the war. In other words,perspective paints a different picture of an understanding of acrisis. For instance, the perspective given by the author regardingthe war is a clear and different view of the war.

My Lai Transcript

This is a transcript where various people who were engage inthe Vietnam War give their views and perspectives of the war.Authors, photographers, helicopter pilots, leaders, journalists andmy Lai villagers al give accounts and perspectives of the war inVietnam and the massacre in Lai village of the innocent, men, womenand children who were viewed as communist sympathizers or Vietcong(American Experience, 2000). This transcript offers a deep insightinto the war and its effects. It is clear from the general view ofthe reading that the war was unnecessary and immoral. The massacre atLai village is described the helicopter operators and other soldiersin the battle field as immoral. The soldiers were uncomfortable withthe killing of innocent people and were only shooting the peoplesimply because they were getting orders from their seniors. Thedifferent people describe the war as being peaceful at the beginning.The soldiers were friendly to the locals and there was trust betweenthe two groups. It is clear that the people in the transcript presenta side of the war where the innocent locals trusted American soldiersand in fact believed that the soldiers would never kill (AmericanExperience, 2000). The soldiers would share their meals with thechildren. This is a perspective of the war that is hardly known. Manypeople believe that the Vietnam War was full of violence but this isa different perspective of the war.

The American soldiers are portrayed in this perspective as peoplewho did not want to kill innocent people. They were only doing it asa result of the orders from the seniors. This is especiallymanifested when the soldiers were ordered to kill the old men, womenand children in a ditch. Majority of the soldiers were opposed to theidea, but they simply did it because if they had refused, they wouldhave faced dire consequences from their bosses (American Experience,2000). It would be easy for any outsider to believe that the soldierskilled the people with impunity. However, reading this perspectivegives a clear view of what exactly happened and why. This perspectiveis extremely important since it paints a different and a true pictureof the Vietnam War. These stories are extremely vital in the study ofstories and creative leadership. The stories present a differentperspective of the war in Vietnam.


O`Brien, T. (1990).&nbspThe things they carried: A work offiction. Boston: Houghton Mifflin.

Nagel, J. (2004).&nbspThe contemporary American short-storycycle: The ethnic resonance of genre. Baton Rouge: LouisianaState Univ. Press.

Bloom, H. (2011).&nbspTim O`Brien`s The things they carried.New York: Bloom`s Literary Criticism.

American Experience. (2000). My Lai. Program transcript. Pdf.