Presenter Information

Zoe MeyerFollow

Content Category

Literary Criticism

Abstract/Description

In this paper, I analyze gender roles in Tim O’Brien’s The Things They Carried arguing that war causes American society to shift, and as a result, expected gender roles and the understanding of expected behavior change. Correlating the soldiers’ understanding of what it means to be American directly to their understanding of gender, I explain that changing what it means to be men alters their idea of what it means to be citizens of the United States. Because the soldiers can no longer be identified by their gender, nor can they identify themselves as Americans, they lose their understanding of war and what it means to be fighting in it. I conclude with the claim that the soldiers, after having their complete sense of identity destroyed and losing their purpose in fighting the war, cannot exist and function in a society where traditional roles and definitions are so firmly established.

Origin of Submission

as part of a class

Faculty Involvement

Jamin Rowan; Trent Hickman

Location

4116 JFSB

Start Date

18-3-2016 9:00 AM

End Date

18-3-2016 10:30 AM

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Mar 18th, 9:00 AM Mar 18th, 10:30 AM

Who Wears the Pants: The Unraveling of Gender in "The Things They Carried"

4116 JFSB

In this paper, I analyze gender roles in Tim O’Brien’s The Things They Carried arguing that war causes American society to shift, and as a result, expected gender roles and the understanding of expected behavior change. Correlating the soldiers’ understanding of what it means to be American directly to their understanding of gender, I explain that changing what it means to be men alters their idea of what it means to be citizens of the United States. Because the soldiers can no longer be identified by their gender, nor can they identify themselves as Americans, they lose their understanding of war and what it means to be fighting in it. I conclude with the claim that the soldiers, after having their complete sense of identity destroyed and losing their purpose in fighting the war, cannot exist and function in a society where traditional roles and definitions are so firmly established.