“The Lives of the Dead,” is one of the short stories by Tim O’Brien. In this fiction story, he says that remembering certain stories in life can bring the dead back to life. He tells his experience of witnessing a dead body of a Vietnamese man in Vietnam during the times of war. he informs Kiowa that the dead body was a reminder of the girl he had had a previous encounter in life named Linda. In his writing, he alternates the narrative voices between first and third persons.in his last chapters, he narrates a story within a story and the characters keep on changing (Haberle & mark 211).
O’Brien discourses and narrates the story of a girl by the name of Linda. At the age of nine years, they both believed they were in true and mature love. In the beginning of 1956 on their first date, they went to watch world war movies which happened to impress Linda (Haberle & mark 215). At school, she wore a cap to cover her bandages at the back of the head and most of the time. She had lost her hair. Her classmates teased her including Nick Veenhof. O’Brien felt helpless about Linda’s situation. Nick finds out that Linda was suffering from a brain tumor who later passed on. O’Brien upon visiting he closes his eyes and retrieves Linda in his mind healthy looking and he reassures her (Haberle & mark 215). O’Brien believes that the dead are made alive through remembering their stories. For example, tales of Ted Lavender’s demise, Kiowa, and stories cherished by Rat Kiley. 43- year-old O’Brien still dreams about Linda.
O’Brien revisits his difficult definition of the “war story” compared to some kind of genre. When he talks about the dead person, it revives the love story thus demonstrating the control of stories towards memorization of the dead. Symbolically, memories are more of the living than the dead, they help us believe that the dead are still existent and this forms the main theme of the novel (Haberle & mark 217). Throughout the story, the characters develop a form of mental escapism by thinking about memories and home because it brings a sense of comfort and meaning to events. The story is aimed to rescue Timmy’s life. His childhood life. The protagonist happens to be Linda while Timmy is the antagonist. The other characters such as Nick Veenhof, Tim’s parents, Ted Lavender, Mitchell Sanders, Rat Kiley, and Curt Lemon. (Haberle & mark 222).
The story has two settings. One set is in Tim’s childhood life which revolves around school life and their home while the other environment is in a war ground where Tim is trying to recount his childhood experience. The story moves back and forth and does not have a direct flow. It has interjections that give more understanding of the story itself. It alternates between the two settings. The story has fictional prose with simple sentences. It has a sad and nostalgic tone as Tim wishes that Linda could be alive.
The story majors on the theme of death. It explains the effect that death brings to the lives of their loved ones who were left behind. For instance, Tim still remembers Linda and their life together in their childhood despite the fact that he is now an adult. Even after those many years, he still wishes that Linda could be alive. The actions of those around him and the death of other people around him always bring back the memory of Linda. The story also highlights how our character and behavior can wound those around us. Our words can bring bad memories to those around us unknowingly. To O’Brien death is terrible but sharing it out is the best thing to let go and stay positive. He dreams and retrieves stories to help him change from his childhood. He wishes he could have acted and responded to Linda’s situation accordingly and earlier.