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The Things They Carried

Tim O’Brien

Key Questions and Answers

Summary Key Questions and Answers
Why didn’t Tim O’Brien try to evade the draft by going to Canada?

Tim O’Brien decides to go to Vietnam because he couldn’t find the resolve not to or, in his own words, because he “was embarrassed not to.” In “On the Rainy River,” O’Brien contemplates running away to Canada after he is drafted. But while sitting in Elroy Berdahl’s boat close to the Canadian shore, O’Brien envisions all the people in his life and what they will think of him if he dodges the draft. He admits, “I did not want people to think badly of me.” O’Brien later says about his decision, “I survived, but it’s not a happy ending. I was a coward. I went to the war.”