Reading Military Character in Tim O'Brien's The Things They Carried and Phil Klay's Redeployment

Master's Thesis


I propose that O'Brien and Klay present an alternative to plot structure as a means of presenting the experience of the combat soldier in war literature. If we are to embrace the belief that war’s inherent confusion, anxiety, and resistance to coherent storytelling makes a construction of narrative through the traditional modes of plot unsatisfying, then what do O'Brien and Klay present as an alternative? What we see in both works is a development of character as a means to tell the story of war. Because of the distinctive qualities of military culture, which inculcates its own ethical code of conduct that distinguishes its members from the civilian public by a peculiar relationship to the body politic, the cultivation of character within the context of combat provides a unique opportunity to develop narrative outside the conventional constructs of plot.


Attribute NameValues
  • etd-04162015-141820

Author Aaron S Mann
Advisor Sandra M. Gustafson
Contributor Barbara Green, Committee Member
Contributor Sandra M. Gustafson, Committee Chair
Contributor Jesse Costantino, Committee Member
Degree Level Master's Thesis
Degree Discipline English
Degree Name Master of Arts
Defense Date
  • 2015-04-15

Submission Date 2015-04-16
  • United States of America

  • Henry James

  • soldier

  • literature

  • Tim O'Brien

  • Vietnam

  • fiction

  • Deployment

  • Phil Klay

  • Iraq

  • character

  • post-modernism

  • war

  • The Things They Carried

  • narrative

  • University of Notre Dame

  • English

Record Visibility Public
Content License
  • All rights reserved

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