It becomes quickly apparent Tim O’Brien was not a strong supporter of the Vietnam War in his work, especially in the collection of short stories The Things They Carried. However, in a biography essay of O'Brien it is evident that was also not completely against the concept of war when it was vital to the safety and welfare of a nation’s citizens: “There [are] occasions, I [believe] when a nation was justified in using military force to achieve its ends, to stop a Hitler or some comparable evil” (Things They Carried, 44). Clearly, O’Brien did not believe that the United States’ involvement in the Vietnam War was a vital necessity and although there were major demonstrations against it at the time, O’Brien appeared to be more content with subliminally resisting the concept rather than participating in any high profile rallies that might mark him as an obvious dissenter.
That is until he received his draft notice in the mail, which brought the notion of fighting in a war that he did not believe in to the forefront of his consciousness and ultimately his every waking moment: “It was a kind of schizophrenia. A moral split. I couldn’t make up my mind. I feared the war yes, but I also feared exile” (44). It is this inner conflict, which O’Brien faces from the time he receives his draft notice, that sets the stage for the metaphorical intervention of a character that has all the attributes of the popularly embraced mystical legend – the angel.