Thursday, April 26, 2012

The Things She Carried

Recently, we finished reading a book in AP English called The Things They Carried, by Tim O'Brien. It was the kind of book that your parents had to sign a permission form for you to read. The novel itself is about experiences within a band of soldiers in the Vietnam War, told predominantly in stream-of-consciousness style. The chapters within the book have tangled, circular patterns, and are very jumbled, which, coupled with the serious subject matter and often-used profanity, made the novel a pretty difficult read. I wasn't really enjoying it, simply because I don't necessarily approve of war, and the discussions we were having as a class on the topic, weren't either productive or helpful in analyzing the book.

Halfway through reading the novel, it got much more difficult for me to read about guns, death and loss. A great friend, one of my beautiful Princess sisters, the one with whom I was closest, committed suicide, on April 10th (the day of my most recent blog post... we weren't informed of her death until the next day.)
 She and I were together during our Princess Retreat, were in the same car group when driving to all of our many events, and she was my dancing partner. She had even came over to my house, and met my family back in February, the night before a big event, so she could practice the dance with me. She was right next to me every time we performed our dance, and was in the backseat with me on every car ride, and made every Daffodil event seem like the biggest party ever... she was a GREAT friend.

The sudden and tragic loss of her drastically effected my ability to simply go through life, let alone read this book. It was much more difficult to tolerate the guns, killing, loss, and death, often expressly and insensitively stated and approached within the novel. However, it was a school assignment, and my teacher was unable to realize that continuing to read the book was upsetting me, so I just read what I was supposed to, and tried to focus. Automatically, my brain honed in on how death was viewed within the novel - not as weakness, just, something that happens, like an inevitability, almost - and how the various soldiers reacted to it: some, with insensitivity, and almost disgusting behavior, and others, with a deep, dragging guilt, comparable to the state I was in. I left class more than once reaching tears, simply because it was too difficult to handle. (Of course, our English teacher follows up that book, with a poetry unit - the fourth poem we study being Richard Cory, by Edwin Arlington Robinson, because he's oblivious.)

In the end, I know that Alex will stay in my heart and memory forever, because she was one of the best parts about being a Daffodil Princess. However, while it was an interesting and thought-provoking novel, I don't think I'll ever want to read it again. The pain and emotions I'll forever associate with The Things They Carried will be too painful to revisit.

Princess friends forever. I'll never forget, and always love, you. See you in the stars, Alexandria. RIP.

#24. The Things They Carried, by Tim O'Brien.

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