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Scenario and The Things They Carried

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The Character of the bridegroom pictured in the poem, “Scenario” written by Denise Levertov and the character of Tim O’Brien in the book, “The Things They Carried” written by Tim O’Brien, are developed in a certain manner, which helps the reader understand the guilt, which is burdened upon the characters in the two literary works. In the poem “Scenario” written by Denise Levertov, the speaker is a person who understands the situation in Vietnam and takes the role of a director when narrating the poem. The poet makes the reader see the mental suffering of soldiers, which result from guilt.

The setting of the poem is similar to one of a heatre. The quotation, “The theatre of war”, informs the reader that the stage represents the battlefield. “Offstage a cast of thousands weeping”. This quotation describes the terrible sorrow and pain experienced by the loved ones of those who were killed by the American soldiers. Then the poet concentrates on a single character of the poem. “a whole body, on which a splash of napalm is working. Enter the bride. She has one breast, one eye; half of her scalp is bald.

She hobbles towards centre front. The poet gives the reader a description of a victim of war. We are told of the heavy physical damage caused by a splash of napalm such as he loss of a breast, an eye and the ‘hobbling’ implies the damage caused to the rest of the body. Then the poet goes on to describe the reactions of a bridegroom who sees her. “a young soldier, thin, but without visible wounds. He sees her. Slowly at first, then faster and faster, he begins to shudder, to shudder, to ripple with shudders. ” The bridegroom in the poem probably represents the American soldier.

The poet has described the mental suffering, which is undergone by the soldier. The reader can understand that the sight of the damage caused by the war horrifies the soldier. His terrible guilt makes him shudder uncontrollably. Based on the structure of the poem it is understood that it is the soldier who is suffering more compared to the physically injured bride. By describing the pain, sorrow and guilt, when developing the character of the bride and the soldier, Denise Levertov tries to make the people who are responsible for all the destruction and carnage see the devastation caused by their decisions.

The poet has used structure as a literary technique to efficiently convey her message to the reader. “The Things They Carried” written by Tim O’Brien conveys a message which is similar to the message conveyed by the poem “Scenario” written by Denise Levertov. In the chapter, “The Man I Killed”, we told how disturbed Tim was when he killed a man. He stares at the corpse for a long time and thinks about what the victim would have done in life if he did not die in the war. He wanted someday to be a teacher of mathematics’.

We are given the description of the corpse repeatedly. ‘His jaw was in his throat, his upper lip and teeth were gone, his one eye was shut, his other eye was a star-shaped hole. ‘ The author has repeated the images in Tim’s mind like constant memory flashes, which creates a sense of guilt. The ambitions of the victim is unknown in reality. Only imagination tells Tim that he would have been a mathematic teacher if he had not been enrolled in the war.

However Tim’s trance-like behaviour after the kill makes the reader understand the guilt, which was consuming him. The violent imagery used by the author has a strong impact upon conveying the message. Both Tim O’Brien and Denise Levertov uses character development to convey the guilt felt by the killers. Denise Levertov develops the bride and the soldier to show the terrible guilt felt by the soldier. Tim O’Brien develops his own character to make the reader understand the weight of the guilt felt after killing the young man.

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