In The Things They Carried, how are the following the epicenter of the novel?
How do The Rainy River, the sh it field, Lake Cahautauqua and the frozen pond function together as the epicenter in The Things They Carried? How does O’Brien manipulate these permutations of water as a central symbol?
Answer by Blaine
~While at work in the slaughterhouse, O’Brien suddenly feels an urge to go to Canada. He leaves work and drives north along the Rainy River, the natural border between the U.S. and Canada.
~Azar will not stop joking about how ironic it is that Kiowa died in a “shit field,” though everyone wants him to shut up. The men know they can’t leave Kiowa in the field, but they don’t want to dwell on his death.
In one death, specifically (Kiowa’s) he retells it and makes it known that his location of death was a “shit field”. He does not censor himself for the sake of the readers but allows the true nature of the location to come alive. Also the “shit field” is symbolic in that the war in which they were fighting had come to such measures as to have them fight in such conditions. Irony also comes into play here because the field was an actual place where sewage went therefore the name fits it well. The fact that Kiowa’s death occured here also, indirectly highlights how good of a man Kiowa was. He died in the exact opposite manner in which he should have. For example, if Kiowa was an evil man, it may have been more accepted that he died in this manner. But Kiowa was a “fine human being, a devout Baptist” (163) which is more powerful to the reader when they find out how he died. The war takes honest people away in such horrific events and there is really no need for it.
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