Instructions: Write an essay that offers a persuasive answer to this question: How useful is Tim Oâ€™Brienâ€™s The Things They Carried as a primary historical source? Evaluate the strengths and the limitations of the evidence which Oâ€™Brienâ€™s collection of short stories provides.
Length:4-5 pages (please do not exceed the page limit!), not including notes and bibliography
Format:Double-spaced, 12 point Times New Roman, with 1 inch margins all around.You must include the following:
- A title
- an introduction that hooks reader and presents a clear and thoughtful thesis statement
- 3 or 4 body paragraphs, develop argument by presenting and interpreting evidence from the book (can use outside sources, do not need to)
- Strong conclusion that wraps up the essay and establishes why thesis is significant
********** PDF of the whole book attached is attached. 2009 Mariner Edition. **************
Your bibliography and notes should be in the Note-Bibliography format from the Chicago Manual of Style.
- If you are unfamiliar with how historians define a primary source, look up the term using reputable reference tools.
- Read through Patrick Raelâ€™s guide, â€œHow to Read a Primary Source,â€ section 2b at http://www.bowdoin.edu/writing-guides/.
- Examine how Raelâ€™s framework appliesâ€”or fails to applyâ€”to The Things They Carried.
- Questions to think about that illuminate important dimensions of this short story collectionâ€™s usefulness for historical research:
- What does Oâ€™Brien mean when he meditates upon what might count as â€œa true war storyâ€?In what ways does The Things They Carried meet Oâ€™Brienâ€™s definition, and in what ways might the book fall short?
- What can fictionâ€”writing that is by definition inventive, imaginative, and contrivedâ€”tell us about history?What parts of the book seem the least reliable as historical evidence?What portions of the book seem to ring true on some level or other?
- How typical was Tim Oâ€™Brienâ€™s experience in Vietnam?How might other characters in the book have understood the events, emotions, and meanings Oâ€™Brien narrates?
- Does the fact that Oâ€™Brien wrote The Things They Carried many years after returning from Vietnam compromise its validity as historical evidence?Why or why not?
- What biases, ideologies, personal qualities, and social positions (including Oâ€™Brienâ€™s race, ethnicity, class, nationality, and sexual identity) inflect Oâ€™Brienâ€™s understanding of the warâ€”casting some dimensions of the conflict in a sharper light while blinding Oâ€™Brien to others?
Further Reading on the Book:You may find some useful ideas in the following places: