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)
"But I shouldn't bitch. One thing I hate—really hate—is all those whiner-vets." (Notes.5)
This is part of Norman Bowker's letter to O'Brien. Because of O'Brien's view on truth, we have to view this as part of the story as much as anything else is. Despite the fact that Bowker is having a really hard time readjusting to American society, he still chides himself for complaining and talks about how much he hates whiners.
Getting shot should be an experience from which you can draw some small pride. I don't mean the macho stuff… gut hate, the kind of hate that stays with you even in your dreams. (The Ghost Soldiers.5-7)
Tim's exit from fighting was because of—no joke—a butt wound that nearly killed him. He had gangrene of the butt. The nurses call it diaper rash as a joke. It hurts his butt, obviously, but it hurts his reputation more, and because of it he forms an unhealthy hatred of Bobby Jorgenson, the medic who let the wound fester in the first place.
Another thing. Three times a day […] so naturally there were some jokes. (The Ghost Soldiers.62)
As the story progresses, O'Brien keeps coming back to his butt wound and describing in detail all the ways in which it's humiliating. It makes us realize the depth of his hatred for Jorgenson, and how it might prompt him to enact some kind of revenge.