Military Life in Vietnam in Tim O’Brien’s The Things They Carried

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The Things They Carried is a story based on the experiences of young American soldiers fighting during the Vietnam War. The story begins giving you insight into the thoughts of the soldiers, describing to you what they humped along with them through their walk in the deep jungle of Vietnam. Some of those things were necessities P-38 can openers, pocket knives, heat tabs, wristwatches, dog tags, mosquito repellent, chewing-gum, candy, cigarettes, salt tablets (81) and some were objects to give them hope. Throughout the story you follow a young platoon of men on their journey through the jungle never knowing which day could be the last day of their lives. The author, Tim O’Brien, using very accurate description and detail gives us insight into their emotions and thoughts along their journey.

The Vietnam War was fought in the 1960s and 1970s. The war was fought between the communist North Vietnam and noncommunist South Vietnam. The United States stepped in to help South Vietnam and prevent the spread of communism. The United States was forced out of their traditional way of fighting into Vietnam where the fighting was mainly guerrilla warfare that took place in the heavy jungle on a mountainous region with few grassy plateaus. Travel was nearly impossible except by foot, and when it was possible by a vehicle it was slow and difficult often getting attacked by combatants when they were the most vulnerable. The mountains made air to ground visibility nearly impossible making our soldiers endure not only hostile fire but indirect friendly fire. Tim O’Brien describes how the men were forced to walk through the jungle by foot slowly comparing them to moving like mules through the hot sticky jungle. The climate being hot ...

... middle of paper ... read the story you are brought into the heads of the soldiers and are able to understand the toll that war takes on a person. Through Tim O’Brien’s realistic description you are able to almost feel as if you have been at war yourself.


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Tim O’Brien, “The Things They Carried.” Literature: An Introduction to Reading and Writing. Ed. Edgar V. Roberts and Henry E. Jacobs. 3rd Compact Ed. Upper Saddle River: Prentice Hall, 2006. 80-91
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