Public Memory and Vietnam: A Rhetorical Analysis of Tim O’Brien’s “Night Life” Public

Like any war, Vietnam was long, brutal, and effected nearly everyone. Because of such, the Vietnam War will forever be recorded in history books and on monuments for the public to remember. What they remember, however, is the discussion of this paper. Tim O’Brien is a renowned author of many fictional war themed books. This paper focuses on a chapter titled “Night Life” from his book “The Things They Carried” which depicts his own “fictional” experiences in the service during the Vietnam War. This paper will analyze “Night Life” through a rhetorical lens on the impact it has towards public memory of Vietnam. Tim O’Brien goes beyond what other books and monuments on Vietnam have before. He introduces his audience to a completely new side of the fight, while enticing, horrifying, and changing the view, or public memory, of the war completely.

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