About - The Things They Carried Digital Scrapbook

I chose to compile a scrapbook because I was interested in visualizing some of the most dramatic moments in Tim O'Brien's "The Things They Carried." I had initially envisioned drawing on paper and then stapling the drawings with quotes from the book, but then I realized that I could seize it as an opportunity to effectively combine art, coding, literary analysis, and animation to make something extraordinary. That is why I decided to make a digital scrapbook portraying some of the memorable moments in "The Things They Carried" in the form of a webpage. Now that I am finished with it, I have to admit that it was a lot harder than I thought. In the time span of about a week in which I spent a tremendous amount of time working on this project, I have encountered countless problems, most of them fell in the spectrum of drawing, designing, and constructing the webpage using Javascript, HTML, and CSS. It was not until I started drawing that I realized that I am a terrible artist, but I had to live with it. Though the final product might seem unpolished or even ugly to some extent, I can say with pride that everything (except for the quotes) present on the webpage is original, including but not limited to the drawings, the animations of flying bullets and rain, and the transitions of images and texts; I built this webpage from ground up, and it represents my best effort. Behind the scene are hundreds of lines of code. The webpage is designed to illustrate five scenes from a number of short stories in "The Things They Carried." Wait for the completion of the animations and click anywhere on the screen, the webpage will guide you through the five scenes in a predefined order. As part of the requirement for the project, I will briefly summarize the scenes and discuss the significance of the objects present in each.

Scene 1: this scene portrays a specific event that took place in the short story "Stockings" in which Henry Dobbins got caught in the open during a fierce crossfire. In the drawing, Henry Dobbins stands upright in the middle of the crossfire. He holds his assault rifle firmly in his hands and has a determined and fearless expression on his face. The whitish-yellow clothing wrapped around his neck is the stockings of his girlfriend. The power of the stockings as a talisman is magnified. Guess what, in this imaginary illustration the stockings actually generate a blue force shield that protects Henry Dobbins from being hit by the bullets. The stockings shield him from harm.

Scene 2: this scene portrays one specific moment in time from the short story "The Ghost Soldiers." As Tim O'Brien is mad at the new medic Bobby Jorgenson because the medic failed to properly treat O'Brien's butt wound in time, he decides to "spook" him in the darkness of the night together with Azar, the only person who is willing to help him. The two human-like figure and sandbags to the upper left corner of the screen represent Tim O'Brien and Azar. The one lying on his stomach observing Jorgensen is Tim and the one who is firing a red flare into the night sky is Azar. Azar is portrayed to be firing the red flare because he is the one who turns out to be reckless -- he continues to carry on their "evil" plan without a second-thought even after Tim felt that they've done enough and proposed to stop. The surrounding is covered with red and white stripes to emphasize the spookiness of the night and the potential dangers that come with it. The lines that stretch from Tim's position to the fence are connected to small metal cans - they are laid out exactly as the corresponding description in the book. They serve to create suspicious sound to crank up Jorgensen's nerve. Despite Tim and Azar's effort, Jorgensen remains calm and keeps his positive spirit. That is why I drew this glowing atmosphere around him. His body position is supposed to fit the description: "standing upright with a relaxed expression." The animation portrays Jorgenson shooting the sandbag while simultaneously yelling out O'Brien's name.

Scene 3: this scene is derived from the short story "Ambush." In the scene, O'Brien is throwing out a grenade. His teeth are clenched together because he is scared and confused -- he didn't want to kill the guy, he just wanted him to "evaporate." He also has this empty look in his eyes because he "threw the grenade before he told him to throw it." It is almost like an involuntary response.

As you can see, I am getting better at drawing! I think it is safe to say that each drawing is 12% better than its predecessor.

Scene 4: from "The Man I Killed," this scene depicts Tim O'Brien staring at the man he killed. The expression on his face is supposed to illustrate his inner emotions. It is certain that O'Brien blames himself for killing the man and that he is horrified by the gore. He keeps staring at the wounds because he is horrified by realizing that he is the person who inflicted these wounds. I tried my best to match the drawing with the description of the corpse: star-shaped eye, jaw in his throat, and neck covered in blood. I paid close attention to details -- I noted the fact that the corpse lays in the center of the trail and that the sandals had been blown off from his feet. I didn't draw the ring on his finger because I don't know how to draw fingers...

Scene 5: this scene portrays Norman Bowker showing Kiowa a photograph of his girlfriend in the "shit field." under their puncho amidst heavy rain and the overflowing Sun Tra Bun (thus the mud puddles on the ground). Everything except the beam emitted by the flashlight is dark gray because it is in the middle of the night, cloudy and raining.