The Things They Carried by Tim O'Brien

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In The Things they carried, Tim O’Brien uses a large list of things a soldier carries. Weather it be a good luck charm, chewing gum, gun/ammunition or recreational drugs. This displays a window in to the emotional burdens that all soldier bear. One major burden for these poor soldier is confronting the tension between reality and fantasy. We see the tension in LT Jimmy Cross with his infatuation for Martha. Each day when the soldier made camp or rest he pulls out the letters from Martha and reads them, making sure that they remain well preserved. Cross also carries a tiny pebble in his mouth that Martha sent him. When Ted Lavender was shot, Cross realized that his love for Martha had led him away from the path of reality and had to snap out of the fantasy. Cross then burns the letters and pulls himself together to be there for his men.
Since these soldier are of such a young age the emotions and burdens are highly intensified. The men that were drafted for Vietnam were in their late teens to early twenties. They had absolutely no concept of killing. These young men were students or boyfriends, they had no idea how to handle the loss of a fellow soldier who they have forged a friendship with. The author Tim O'Brien uses details to point out what the experience was like for these young men. To illustrate the fear and cowardice that none of them could admit to. This is something that all of the soldiers had to deal with. Even though they were scared to go out and fight they did so anyway because, it was hard for these men to face the burden of emotion. When Ted Lavender died his fellow soldiers were indeed sad for his loss but, every single one of them was happy that it wasn't them who was dead. They can still live one more day deal...

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...something that O'Brien carries with him even after the war is over. For twenty years he has carried the guilt of killing someone.
Further more, it just goes to show that soldiers not only carry physical things like guns, food or good luck charms. They can carry the emotions that come with war such as: being away from home, being forced into war and not knowing if they will make it back alive. The soldiers also carry the changes of war. They were sent off young and innocent only to come back completely different, just like the case of Mary Anne. War is more then just a battle between waring nations, it's a psychological battle. People back in the states had no clue what the soldiers had to do and what effect it had on them. The Things They Carried is a great insight into what these soldiers experienced and how they dealt with the challenges are the Vietnam war.
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