The Things They Carried
by Tim O'Brien
The Things They Carried Respect and Reputation Quotes
How we cite our quotes: Citations follow this format: (Story Title.Paragraph)
Even now, I'll admit, the story makes me squirm. For more than twenty years I've had to live with it, feeling the shame, trying to push it away […]. (On the Rainy River.1)
O'Brien begins the story by admitting that his reputation still matters to him. This is a story so shameful to him that he's been dealing with it on his own for twenty years.
All the eyes on me—the town, the whole universe—and I couldn't risk the embarrassment […] I felt myself blush. I couldn't tolerate it. (On the Rainy River.69)
This whole time, we've thought that the reason O'Brien's been ashamed to tell this story for twenty years is because he nearly ran away from the war. Now we learn that he's ashamed that he didn't run away. He blushed, and he went to war purely out of shame.
He seemed a little dazed. Now and then we could hear him cussing, bawling himself out. Anyone else would've laughed it off, but for Curt Lemon it was too much. The embarrassment must've turned a screw in his head. (The Dentist.7)
Curt Lemon is the resident daredevil, so it makes sense that he would be embarrassed about fainting in the dentist's tent. And he's so embarrassed that he's yelling at himself out loud, and eventually goes to get a perfectly good tooth pulled, just to prove that he's still a tough guy.