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I just started with my EE in earnest and I am planning to be finished by the end of this month so that I have little more than one week for re-reading it 100 times or so.

My subject is English (Group 2 for me because I go to school in Switzerland)

Category 3 - Literature

Topic: Psychology of characters in "The things they carried" by Tim O'Briend and "The Short-Timers" by Gustav Hasford.

Research Question:

How and to what effect are the topics of psychological burdens, vulgar language and lunatic behaviour of soldiers in the Vietnam war treated differently in „The things they carried“ by Tim O’Brien and „The Short-Timers“ by Gustav Hasford?

I have read both texts closely and marked them with 4 different colors relating to different aspects so I can always come back to the texts if I need more text passages.

Psychological burdens are for me:

-The first kill or killing in general

-Relations to people at home (eg girlfriend, parents...)

-The fact that oneself or comrades can die at any time

-Responsibility for the life of others

-The pressure of being "manly" as in: Not showing one's fear

Vulgar language is talked about in "The things they carried" occasionally and is also relevant when the narrator explains why vulgar language is essential for war stories. In "The Short-Timers" it is a major element of the storytelling and is used to dehumanize the soldiers. Whoever has seen "Full Metal Jacket" knows what I mean. The movie is based on "The Short-Timers".

Lunatic Behaviour: I hope I chose the right word for it. I first thought "pathological" was right but I feel it isn't. Help would be appreciated:

Examples for the behaviour I am referring to:

-sadism/extreme violence

-talking to and loving one's weapon

-sending a corpse by mail


-cynical jokes

-hurting oneself

-being a pedophile

-collecting Vietcong hands


-playing with corpses

My questions to you are:

-How would you call that behaviour? Is "lunatic" precise enough?

-What do you think of my topic and research question?

-Any tips in general for later on?

Oh and before there are questions: Yes, I am interested in the topic and I do enjoy reading those books. War literature is very powerful.

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Hi Carlos,

Two questions by way of answer:

1) Ultimately, what do you hope to reveal with this comparison of the two works? You may end up with a list of features, as you seem to have here.

2) How will your choice of topic/approach reveal your understanding of literature and the literary treatment of the subject?

Edited by Blackcurrant

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