It is interesting to consider that, considering the fact that there are billions of humans on the planet, far more people have died than are alive. The truth instills a profound meaning in the matter of creation, revealing that it does not deserve the love it receives due to the ease with which it can be lost. It is on this basis that Henri Bergson established the theory, claiming that rather than seeing it as a factor that continues by the interaction of elements, existence is more about dissociation and separation (Bergson 197). The collection by Tim O’Brien titled The Things They Carried in a series of short stories that describe the fate of American soldiers who fought in the Vietnam War and who ended up with physical reminders of love, agony, pain, pain and death after. The story by Tim O’Brien elaborates on the agony and separation that American soldiers went through in the Vietnam War and which underscores the fact that life is founded on principles of division rather than association.
Subscribing to the pain that associated with death is more of a clear understanding of what life offers than on what it is made to appear. When humans think off life, they reason in the perspective of the accomplishment that they make rather than on what they are unable to make when life is cut short. In many instances, the feeling of emptiness supersedes the networks and associations that were established in the process. O’Brien explores the concept in the writing of his story by describing the trauma associated with separating with other members of the squad in the process of the war. For example, in the climax of the series of stories, the author describes the death of Kiowa which changes the relationship among the individual members. The author states, “If it had been possible, which it wasn’t, he would have explained how his friend Kiowa slipped away that night beneath the dark swampy field. He was folded in with the war; he was part of the waste” (O’Brien 56). The impression from the statement is that instead of carrying feelings of bonding within him following the relationship he had built with the squad partner Kiowa, the narrator ended up getting separated from his friend, which translated to dissociation. Further elaboration of the statement is described from the perspective of his friend being perceived as part of the waste, a symbolic description to denote the adverse effect of death.
An alternative way of describing the principle of life being a detachment from the realization that some people ended up with feeling of guilt rather than appreciating the experience they had in the war. Humans tend to be social creatures and they relate in diverse ways. The typical setting requires that someone in a position to save their friend should do so in a prompt manner to avoid suffering. It, however, appears that life is more complicated on the front because when someone is unable to save a friend from a pending catastrophe, they are forced to live with the trauma and guilt. Many characters in the collection of stories by O’Brien exhibit the feature. Lieutenant Jimmy Cross finds himself to blame as he realizes that in the process of caring for his wife, he ended up losing another life when Ted Lavender of the Alpha Company got killed. Lavender dies of taking tranquilizers and smoking marijuana after being filled with tranquilizers. The author writes, “He had loved Martha more than his men, and as a consequence Lavender was now dead, and it was something he would have to carry like a stone in his stomach for the rest of the war” (O’Brien 45). It is difficult to assume that the act of loving Martha could have caused the death of Lavender but considering that he was the commanding officer, it becomes apparent that the blame is partially on Cross. Many other instances prove the weakness in the both of life in the novel as portrayed in the way Strunk responded to his friend’s death. The two had agreed that if either one was hurt, the other should kill the hurt one promptly. Strunk is hurt in the process and begs Jensen to spare him, a wish he is granted, However, upon his death later, Jensen is relieved rather than become hurt. It means that life is not as binding as it appears to be because it appears Jensen was thankful when life was taken away. The impression is that rather than being connected to his soldiers, death create a feeling of detachments and makes one realize that while we may thin with are in association with others, the reality could be that we are separated.
The last interpretation of the principle of life being more dissociative rather than binding is based on the fact that people tend to give preference to their reputation than to the value of life. The human generation is changing the manner in which it perceives success with focus being on the reputation that one is able to earn by the tie they die (Wallace). The outcome now is that people prefer to dissociate themselves from creating binding lasting relationships to living riskier lives that could get them killed in the process (Riendeau 5). It appears that the driving force is no longer compassion but is more of an issue of about how heroic one is. O’Brien presents the soldiers as men who were mindful of their reputation and who did not fear being maimed or getting killed provided they died protecting her country as it was worthy dying in the line of service as it would earn someone respect. The author writes, “They carried their reputations. They carried the soldier’s greatest fear, which was the fear of blushing. Men killed, and died, because they were embarrassed not to” (O’Brien 14). It thus becomes apparent that reputation carried more weight in the army that anything else. The outcome is that men are willing to lose their lives while protecting their names and respect, hence the conclusion that life is more of a dissociation from social ties than it is associative.
In summary, the principle by Henri Bergson that life is more dissociative than it is binding is a confirmed hypothesis as noted in the manner in which soldiers in The Life They Carried perceive life and death. Some of the soldiers ended up blaming themselves for the death of others due to their negligence. The most relevant confirmation of the principle is, however, based on the fact that some of the soldiers rejoiced when death occurred and the fact that the whole squad gave preference to their reputation rather than protecting the life in it. Overall, therefore, it is summed that the principle that life is more divisive and dissociative is common in the contemporary world as confirmed in Tim O’Brien’s book The Things They Carried.
Bergson, Henri. Henri Bergson: Key Writings. Press Universitaires de France, 2002.
O’Brien, Tim. The Things They Carried. Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 1990.
Riendeau, Christine Taylor. “The Things They Carried By Tim O’Brien.” The Things They Carried, 2012.
Wallace, Kathryn. “How the Science of Fear Makes Soldiers Stronger.” Reader’s Digest, 2016.