pleasure, morality, ethics, violence, war, soldiers, Vietnam, killing


In “Morality and Pleasure in Tim O’Brien’s The Things They Carried,” I examine how representations of pleasure in O’Brien’s novel indicate how the soldiers establish a new code of morality during their military service in Vietnam. Although civilians live with a binary understanding of acceptable and unacceptable behavior, the soldiers must commit immoral acts in order to serve honorably, thereby conflicting with this previous understanding. Western ideology asserts that pleasure accompanies moral behavior; because the soldiers perform violent acts, they must ascertain a new understanding of morality in order to continue to feel pleasure throughout and in spite of the war.

Issue and Volume

Volume 9, Issue 1 (2016)