Araby and The Things They Carried


02/11/04


English Essay


Period 6


Most stories have some sort of theme or plot that usually can relate to a reader in their real lives; then again, some stories are pointless as can be. The things that are used in all literature though, are literary techniques. Some stories even share similar techniques, as shown in “Araby” by James Joyce and “The Things They Carried” by Tim O’Brien.


“Araby” seems all but incomprehensible, nothing more than a series of depressing images and memories thrown together in a jumble, somehow meant to depict a childhood infatuation. In reality, this story was written in layers, where as you go through one and plunge deeper, you begin to understand more. One literary technique that was used in this story is point of view. This is very important because when first reading the story, it appears to be told by a child, when in fact it is told by a grown man. “The other houses of the street, conscious of decent lives within them, gazed at one another with brown imperturbable faces" There is no way that a child would write that well. This point of view helps to show what happened to the boy as he grew up, and affects the stories meaning. Another two literary technique used in “Araby” are imagery and fore shadowing. The story starts of with “North Richmond Street, being blind was a quiet street except at the hour when the Christian Brothers\' School set the boys free. An uninhabited house of two stories stood at the blind end, detached from its neighbors in a square ground. The other houses of the street, conscious of decent lives within them, gazed at one another with brown imperturbable faces." This seems straight forward enough, and it also seems like something a reader would skip over, but in reality, the paragraph is entirely symbolic. The dead-end street is a very important symbol, depicting graphically the harsh life of the boy, and it forms the backdrop for all of "Araby." The next sentence says "An uninhabited house of two stories stood at the blind end.” This "uninhabited house" is the culmination of the dead-end street. In a powerful way the author foreshadows the entire story in just two sentences, although we don’t pick that up until the end of the story. Another point is that lining the street are "other houses which gaze at one another with brown imperturbable faces" and are "conscious of decent lives within them.” The irony of this statement is quite profound, given the hopelessness of the boy\'s situation illustrated by the drabness of the houses. In all fullness, “Araby” is filled with literary techniques that are used to explain the entire story & also, to affect the reader to feel like they can visualize the story … almost like they’re there.


In comparison, there is “The Things They Carried,” which used some of the same literary techniques. Tim O’Brien used imagery and form through out the story in many aspects. It shows not only the literal meaning of what they carried but also symbolically the burdens that they had mentally. In the literal sense O’Brien talks about what different members of a platoon in Vietnam carried. He starts by talking about necessities and slowly moves on to what they carried to remind them that there was a world out side of the war. “Among the necessities or near necessities were p-38 can openers, pocket knifes, heat tabs, wrist watches, dog tags, mosquito repellent, chewing gum, candy, cigarettes, salt tablets, packets of Kool-Aid, lighters, matches, sewing kits, Military Payment Certificates, C rations, and two or three canteens of water.” But as the story moves on it shows other things that were considered necessities to them even though to some one else they might seem a luxury, such as Kiowa carrying his grandfather’s hatchet. These are obviously not necessities to others but were one for them. The point is to show the reader that we all have mental baggage, we just carry it differently.


Another literary theme is symbols. O’Brien used weight often through the story. Literally he meant the weight of each weapon, ration, and body armor, ECT … “It was SOP for