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Mantoula Blumenthal Mr. Amster January 20th, 2012 AP English 11 The Pursuit of the American Dream The Things They Carried - Log 2 The American Dream is having the desire to succeed. Success can be achieved through hard work. Hard work and success ultimately bring a person happiness. Thus leading them to live the American Dream. In the novel, The Things They Carried, everyone is constantly changing. Whether it be a minor change, or something that changes their whole life. Looking at the novel as a whole, Tim O’Brien changed the most out of all the characters. When we met Tim in the beginning of the novel he was fresh out of college, young and naive. When he got his draft papers he was scared and at first avoided it. He pretended he never got the papers. He started to get worried about the papers so he decided to skip town; he got in the car and drove. As he got close to the Canadian border, he stopped at a fishing lodge where he stayed for about two weeks. While he was there, he began to realize that he needed to go to the war and so he did. His first few days at were rough; more like shell shock. It was a brutal world and he wasn’t expecting it to be that way. Men talked to corpses and made friends and plans with the dead. As time went on, the war in a sense, grew on him. He learned to do what he had to; If he had to kill a man, he had to do it, as much as it hurt. O’Brien got shot twice while he was in Vietnam. The second time he was shot, he nearly died. They took him off of the field, and put him in a supply factory job. This was nearly the end of Tim’s military career. He felt lost, almost useless. Tim O’Brien left the war with a sense of incompleteness. He changed because he learned that he could only play the cards he was dealt; he could ignore them, but he wouldn’t get any new cards, just the ones he already had. Twenty years later, Tim is still learning from the war, trying to fill the holes the war left him with by writing his stories. Although Tim O’Brien never really discusses his personal specific struggles with society, he discusses those of his friend Norman Bowker. Norman was a solider in the Vietnam War. When he got home from the war, “home” was not the same as he had left it. Norman’s specific struggle against society was trying to fit in again. His best friend, from before the war, drowned before they were drafted. His high school sweetheart got married while he was away. Norman drove around, aimlessly for hours on end. He didn’t know where to go nor what to do. He couldn’t put a meaning to his life after the war. He had held various jobs and even tried going back to school, but nothing fulfilled the miss- ing part of his life. Norman would sleep until the afternoon, drive around, play basketball, and go back to sleep and do it again. He never figured out how to fit in and be a part of society. Norman put a lot of effort into trying to get back on track, he worked hard but he wasn’t happy. In August 1978, Norman Bowker hung himself. No one knows why he did it; Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, maybe. He may have just been to stuck in the war, to move on and grow. Soldiers are hard working individuals. They strive to be the best they can be at everything they do. Although they work hard, for many soldiers and member of the armed forces, jumping from war to peace is a big and difficult jump. Many soldiers come home, suffering from Post Traumatic Stress Disorder or get terrible flashbacks of the war. They are left wounded, even after all of their physical wounds have healed. Some veterans, like Tim O’Brien, come home and just jump right back on the rails. Like time paused, and everything they wanted to do before the war was still achievable. Others, like Norman Bowker, struggle to fit in again every day. Some never feel fulfillment after the war. Although many veterans, both the ones that transition well and ones that don’t transition at all, can still be stuck in the war. Tim O’Brien used being stuck back in Vietnam to his benefit. He told the stories of him and the men of Lt. Cross to thousands of people, exposing the horrors, hardships, laughs and humors of the war all at once. Nor- man Bowker on the other hand, didn’t know what to do with himself. He felt lost and hopeless. Some soldiers come home and move on, start living their American Dream. While others come home and ask themselves “What’s so great about this American Dream?”