“His jaw was in his throat, his upper lip and teeth were gone, his one eye was shut, his other was a star shaped hole, his eyebrows were thin and arched like a woman’s, his nose was undamaged, there was a slight tear at the lobe of one ear…his forehead was lightly freckled, his fingernails were clean…the right cheek was smooth and hairless…He was not a fighter” (Tim O’Brien 118-19).
I chose “The Man I Killed” by Tim O’Brien because of the emotion that the repetitive lines added to the story. I chose this quote because bits and pieces of it were replayed throughout the story as the soldier replayed the image of the man in his head. This story follows two soldiers who had crossed paths with a supposed enemy resulting in the enemy’s death.
The soldier who had killed the young man stood starring at his lifeless body, examining him carefully. He had come to the conclusion that the man he had just killed was not someone who wanted to cause any harm to anyone and that it wasn’t in his nature. “He was not a fighter…he wanted to someday be a teacher of mathematics” (Tim O’Brien 119). The repetition of what this young man looked like, lying dead on the ground, only drew me in deeper into what the soldier was feeling.
I can’t imagine the feeling of killing someone. To have a person’s life in my grasp and having complete and total control of them living or dying. This obviously affects this soldier because he doesn’t say one word during the story. The other soldier who is with him tries to get him to talk about how he is feeling but is not successful in doing so. I think many soldiers today go through these same feelings of withdrawal both physically and mentally. It is important for them to share their stories and feelings with others so that they don’t increase their chances of posttraumatic distress or worsen what they already have and I think making them into stories is one of the best ways to relieve some of that stress.
O'Brien, Tim. "The Man I Killed." The Things They Carried. Boston: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 2009. 118-24. Print