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