In the short story, “The Things They Carried” by Tim O’Brien, each soldier carries many items during times of war and strife, but each necessity differs. This short story depicts what each soldier carries mentally, physically, and emotionally on his shoulders as long, fatiguing weeks wain on during the Vietnam War. The author Tim O’Brien is a Vietnam War veteran, an author, the narrator, and a teacher. The main character, First Lieutenant Jimmy Cross is a Vietnam War soldier who is away at war fighting a mind battle about a woman he left behind in New Jersey because he is sick with love while trying to fulfill his duties as a soldier to keep America free. Tim O’Brien depicts in “The Things They Carried” a troubled man who also shoulders the
The Vietnam War was a traumatic experience for everyone that fought on the ground. American soldiers were up close and personal with the Viet Cong (enemy) which made them live in constant fear for their lives. They never knew how they would die or when they would take their last breath, and this thought was always in the back of their minds. The Vietnam War was very brutal, and the amount of death from both sides was enormous. Tim O’Brien’s story “The Things They Carried” is an accurate description of the Vietnam War. He paints a good, yet brief, description of what the war was like for the American soldiers who fought on the front lines.
I wonder what it was like to witness the Vietnam War firsthand in combat. Well, in the short story, “The Things they Carried,” by Tim O’Brien, the theme was portrayed as the physical and emotional burdens that soldiers had to deal with during the Vietnam War.
The novel “The Things They Carried” by Tim O’ Brien takes place in the Vietnam War. The protagonist, Lieutenant Cross, is a soldier who is madly in love with a college student named Martha. He carries around photos and letters from her. However, the first few chapters illustrate how this profound love makes him weak in the war.
Tim O’Brien is a very gifted author, but he is also a veteran of the Vietnam War and fought with the United States in that controversial war. Tim O’Brien was drafted into the Vietnam War in 1968. He served as an infantryman, and obtained the rank of sergeant and won a Purple Heart after being wounded by shrapnel. He was discharged from the Vietnam War in 1970. I believe that O’Brien’s own images and past experiences he encountered in the Vietnam War gave him inspiration to write the story “The Things They Carried.” O’Brien tells the story in third person narrative form about Lt. Jimmy Cross and his platoon of young American men in the Vietnam War. In “The Things They Carried” we can see differences and similarities between the characters by the things they hold close to them.
In the book “The Things They Carried”, O’Brien uses imagery, figurative language and repetition to convey his message. O’Brien’s purpose for story telling, is to clear his conscience of war and to tell the stories of soldiers who were forgotten by society. Many young men were sent to war, despite opposing it. They believed it was “wrong” to be sent to their deaths. Sadly, no one realizes a person’s significance until they die. Only remembering how they lived rather than acknowledging their existence when they were alive.
...y crying not knowing what to do then he turned and peered back to the Minnesota shore line. “It was as real as anything I would ever feel. I saw my parents calling to me from the far shoreline. I saw my brother and sister, all the townsfolk, the mayor and the entire Chamber of Commerce and all my old teachers and girlfriends and high school buddies. Like some weird sporting event: everybody screaming from the sidelines, rooting me on” (58). This is when he knew he could not turn his back on his beloved country. All the wrong he felt the draft was he could not cross the border to flee from anything or anyone. This whole situation describes the rest of his life, but mainly his years in the Vietnam War. He would have to make decisions, decisions that would be hard but would have to do for the ones he loved.
In Tim O’Brien’s The Things They Carried, the readers follow the Alpha Company’s experiences during the Vietnam War through the telling’s of the main character and narrator, Tim. At the beginning of the story, Tim describes the things that each character carries, also revealing certain aspects of the characters as can be interpreted by the audience. The book delineates what kind of person each character is throughout the chapters. As the novel progresses, the characters’ personalities change due to certain events of the war. The novel shows that due to these experiences during the Vietnam War, there is always a turning point for each soldier, especially as shown with Bob “Rat” Kiley and Azar. With this turning point also comes the loss of innocence for these soldiers. O’Brien covers certain stages of grief and self-blame associated with these events in these stories as well in order to articulate just how those involved felt so that the reader can imagine what the effects of these events would be like for them had they been a part of it.
Death is one of life's most challenging obstacles. Tim O'Brien was exposed to more than his fair share of death. To manage the emotional stress, he developed methods of coping with the death in his life. O'Brien's novel, The Things They Carried, demonstrates his attempts to make death less real through psychotherapeutic tactics like telling stories about the dead as if they were living and conceiving the dead as items instead of people.
The theme of emotional weight and its effect on soldiers in the Vietnam conflict is one that O'Brien tackles. By placing physical items next to intangible things like emotions in a list format, O'Brien forces his reader to acknowledge the weight and effect of both of these things on the person who carries them. Lt. Jimmy Cross' inner fear that he was the cause of Ted Lavender's death was symbolized by Martha's pebble and letters. He felt that when he burned the pictures he was conquering his fear, even though no one can simply burn their emotions away. To a certain extent, these men are defined by the things that they carry, "And for all the ambiguities of Vietnam, all the mysteries and unknowns, there was at least the single abiding certainty that they would never be at a loss for things to carry," (O'Brien, 16).
Tim O'Brien's The Things They Carried is not a novel about the Vietnam War. “It is a story about the soldiers and their experiences and emotions that are brought about from the war” (King 182). O'Brien makes several statements about war through these dynamic characters. He shows the violent nature of soldiers under the pressures of war, he makes an effective antiwar statement, and he comments on the reversal of a social deviation into the norm. By skillfully employing the stylistic technique of specific, conscious detail selection and utilizing connotative diction, O'Brien thoroughly and convincingly makes each point.
The Things They Carried is a funny little book in the sense that it isn’t told how most books are. It goes from war to camping on the borderline of Canada, back to war, and then into present day times. It works marvelously well, showing you what actually happened and then what he thought about what happened and what he could have done to change the outcome. There are many things that I think people can learn from his experiences in the Vietnam war and the way he tells those stories and lessons really bring you along for the ride.
Tim O’ Brien alternates between narrative and descriptions of the tangible items that they soldiers carry. He remembers seemingly everything that his squad mates were carrying and provides an “emotionless recitation” of the weights of each of the items the soldiers carried into the field. He frequently uses the term “humping” to describe how the soldiers carry their gear; making them appear more uncivilized, like animals. As he switches back to mentioning the intangible items, such as the experiences of his leader Jimmy Cross and his love Martha, the emotional weights of each soldier is felt by the reader. This contrast in style affirms that they soldiers are human and provides emphasis to the weight these intangible objects have on the soldiers.
The impact of the Vietnam War upon the soldiers who fought there was huge. The experience forever changed how they would think and act for the rest of their lives. One of the main reasons for this was there was little to no understanding by the soldiers as to why they were fighting this war. They felt they were killing innocent people, farmers, poor hard working people, women, and children were among their victims. Many of the returning soldiers could not fall back in to their old life styles. First they felt guilt for surviving many of their brothers in arms. Second they were haunted by the atrocities of war. Some soldiers could not go back to the mental state of peacetime. Then there were soldiers Tim O’Brien meant while in the war that he wrote the book “The Things They Carried,” that showed how important the role of story telling was to soldiers. The role of stories was important because it gave them an outlet and that outlet was needed both inside and outside the war in order to keep their metal state in check.
The book The Things They Carried by Tim O’Brien is fiction and truth wound together to create a frustrating and addicting novel of fiction about the Vietnam war. O’Brien created stories by using his experiences during the Vietnam whether they are true stories or not is an unattainable knowledge for the reader, the only person of that knowledge is only O 'Brien himself. Through his writing he emphasized the the fact that you cannot perfectly recall the experiences of your past when your telling a story but the way it is told is “true sometime than the happening-truth(O’Brien 171) which helps give The Things They Carried depth beyond that of a “true”, true story.