He himself also suffers from OPTS, and has chapters about his thoughts, feelings, and family intervention when he was writing his memoir. “Speaking of Courage,” tells the story of another member of Tim O’Brien platoon, Norman Booker, following his return to his hometown In Iowa. Booker feels responsible for the death of Kiowa, who literally drowned In human excrement during a firefight when the platoon was encamped in what turned out to be a field of sewage. Frozen in panic, Booker could not bring himself to move and pull the wounded Kiowa out of the stinking sewage.
Now, back in Iowa, he simply drives In circles around town, feeling aimless and out of place. ‘How to Tell a True War Story Is a collection of small stones Interspersed with instructions about “true” war stories. The narrator tells the story of his friend Rat Killed, who writes a letter to the sister of his buddy who had been killed a week earlier. It is a long, heartfelt letter. He waits for two months for a reply to the letter, but the sister never writes back. The story then shifts to commentary. A true war story Is never moral” (O’Brien 65) the narrator Instructs. These two stories contain read examples of different symptoms of post-traumatic stress disorder, in a way that can further explain them to the reader. The Vietnam War was fought by an ideology against an Ideology, and ultimately solved very little while hurting so many. OPTS is a mental Illness that Is cause by a traumatic event that has happened In ones life and can be easily triggered by a daily activity. Pony close evaluation, Tim O’Brien collection, The Things They Carried, explores the effects of Post Traumatic Stress Disorder in relation to Vietnam, since characters possess prone to angry outburst, elapse, and suicidal tendencies. The tragic events that are witnessed during the war in “How to Tell a True War Story’ can cause immediate cases of anger outbursts. Anger is said to be a cover for other emotions such as fear or hurt, and can also be a way of pushing people away in order to protect oneself. However, tendencies for sudden outbursts of anger are Like a manifestation of hyper-vigilance and fear of loss of control.
In “How to Tell a True War Story,” Rat Killed looses his best friend, Curt Lemon, after being blown up while playing a game of catch. This has caused some sadness and anger to build up inside him. Later that day, the troops come across a baby buffalo that the end up bringing with them to s deserted village. After the failed attempt of Rat trying to feed the baby buffalo, “he stepped back and shot it through the right front knee. It went down hard, 1 OFF to hurt… There wasn’t a great deal of pity for the baby water buffalo. Curt Lemon was dead” (O’Brien 75).
In the article “Anger, Hostility, and OPTS,” written by Roth and Wielded, they say that “as a consequence, hostility causes an increase frequency of anger and aggression. Thus, anger and hostility may reciprocally activate each other and motivate the individual to aggressive behavior against others”(699). Rat Killed tortures a baby water buffalo because he cannot sit with his emotions about Curt Lemon’s death. Skills method of abuse to this animal was very strategic due to the way he stepped back; shot the buffalo in the ear and then the right knee.
The shots were not random, but were very specific and thought through. What O’Brien meant by not wanting to kill the animal, but to hurt it, was that the pain that Killed was leaning he wanted to see someone else feel it to. Rotor’s thought of reciprocal activity is shown through Skills obsession of seeing this living thing suffer, Just as he was suffering from the loss of his dear friend. Skills angry outburst was Just the start of his OPTS that was caused from this traumatic event that he had witnessed, since anger can motivate to lash out with aggressive behavior.
While one can reduce the severe-news of OPTS, there’s always a possibility for a relapse, which is the case for Norman Booker in “Speaking of Courage. ” In the case of OPTS, relapse is the worsening of symptoms or the recurrence of unhealthy behaviors. As a way of marking time, Norman Booker repeatedly drives a loop around the local lake remembering old girlfriends, hoping one day to track down high-school buddies who have moved to Des Monies or Sioux, and how he would explain Kiosk’s death in the field.
When Booker was in “high school, at night, he had driven around and around it with Sally Kramer… Or other times with friends, talking about urgent matters… Then, there had not been war”(O’Brien 132). Booker came home to find hat Sally was married, his friends were gone, and his father was at home watching TV. He made it seem like it wasn’t a problem, but that was when he went “he took [his dad’s] Chevy on another seven-mile turn around the lake (O’Brien 133). According to John H.
Attainment, author of Twentieth Century Literature, Norman Bookers’ “aimless circling works then to demonstrate his inability to settle back into the routine of the world and exemplifies the psychological distance between his former and present selves” (108). O’Brien shows Booker’s relapse by circling the lake before ND after the war, as the relapse is encapsulated by his trip around the lake back in high school with Sally and doing it again after the war, with out her this time.
Booker aimlessly circling the lake shows that he is unable to break free from its pull, since lake triggers a relapse by his inability to settle back into civilization. Booker portrays Attainment’s psychological distancing when he talks about the time before the war. So, the fact that Norman Booker circles the same lake as he did before the war, and constantly is thinking about what he has lost from being at war, shows that Booker is experiencing a relapse as a side effect of his OPTS. Thoughts of suicide are a major symptom of Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder and are explored in the short story “Speaking of Courage”.
War Veterans experience so much when in combat that their lives can hardly ever be normal and having to adjust to being back home can be a struggle. Booker had two friend, Max and Kiowa, both who which drowned in lakes, which had a major impact on Booker. Norman Booker a time he got out, walked down to the beach, and waded into the lake without undressing. The water felt warm against his skin. He put his head under. He opened his lips, very slightly, for the taste, then he stood up and folded his arms and watch the 148).
In an interview with Tim O’Brien, he mentions that this story “came from a letter [he] received from a guy name Norman Booker, a real guy, who committed suicide after [he] received his letter. He was talking to [O’Brien] in his letter about how he Just couldn’t adjust to coming home. It wasn’t bad memories; it was that he couldn’t talk to any about it (Unapparent 7). That was when O’Brien followed that story with the essay “Notes,” to inform that “three years later hanged myself in the locker room of a YMCA in his hometown of Iowa” (O’Brien 149).
In “Speaking of Courage”, Booker didn’t go into the lake to watch the fireworks; instead it was a mere thought of suicide, indicated by how Norman was fully dressed, submerging his entire body under water, and opening his mouth. Folding of his arms may hint that Booker is content with ending his life the way his buddies did. O’Brien point on Booker not being able to adjust to coming home, and attempt of suicide could have been a foreshadow of his actual suicide that happen a few years later.
Booker was suffering many symptoms of OPTS, but it is evident that his suicidal thoughts had taken what was left of him, as it does to many war veterans. Angry outbursts, relapse, and suicidal thoughts are only a few of the Post- Traumatic Stress Disorder symptoms that are discussed through out Tim O’Brien The Things They Carried, but they are not the only ones that these characters possess. Norman Booker and Rat Killed are two characters that suffer from OPTS. Booker experiences relapse and suicidal thoughts as his symptoms; where as, Killed suffers from angry outburst.
O’Brien is a credible source for authenticating what fines a true story due to the fact he was part of the Vietnam war and he also suffers from OPTS. From the research gathered about OPTS symptoms, it is clear over the struggles that some go through dealing with this disorder. OPTS is a fracture’ in your experience of life, caused by a traumatic event. You and no one else cause this fracture in your mind because it is response for attempting to cope with what happened. But unfortunately, it’s an ill-informed response. So the next time a song is on repeat in your mind, Just imagine it’s a repeat of your most horrific memories.