The Things they Carried Symbolism

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The Things They Carried: Essay Prompt Two
Tim O’Brien writes about both the physical objects they carry as well as their emotional burdens. The objects that these soldiers carry serve as a symbolism for what they are carrying in their hearts and minds. The soldiers carry items varying from pantyhose, medicine, tanning oil, and pictures. Jimmy Cross is an inexperienced sophomore in college, he signs up for the Reserve Officers Training Camp because his friends are doing the course. Jimmy Cross doesn’t want anything to do with the war or anything to do with being a leader. The item that Jimmy Cross carries with him are pictures of his classmate named Martha.
The pictures of Martha symbolizes many things for Jimmy Cross. He is absolutely infatuated with the picture and deeply in love with Martha, who signs her letters with a “Love, Martha.” Jimmy Cross is so distracted by the photographs of Martha that he doesn’t even realize that death strikes one of his fellow soldiers, Ted Lavender. After this tragic event Jimmy Cross makes a decision to scorch away his grief and sorrow by burning the keepsakes he has collected from Martha. At this point in the novel the photos represent Jimmy’s emotions. He burnt the pictures so he could feel sympathetic not for Ted but for himself.
The pictures of Martha also symbolize his unattainable dreams and this girl is part of that future. He carries around these pictures so he can dream about an alternate life for himself. These pictures are just a way for him to face his reality, by letting his mind slip from the war and into a much happier, simpler world with Martha. The pictures symbolize what he dreams at night while trying to get comfortable on the hard ground, and what he thinks about when he’s...

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...s how you perceive something, emotionally. Truths are what the person makes them out to be and what they believe is the reality. When Tim is writing this novel its about what he experienced in Vietnam or what he learned about being in the war. It may not be the same as Rat Kiley’s view of the war, but everyone experiences the war differently.
O’Brien’s techniques of blurring the lines between fact and fiction were fair. The author wrote this story as a memoriam of his experiences in the Vietnam war. The author wrote what felt right to him, he wanted to honor the fallen soldiers and honor his time spent in the war. In fact I think him lacing truth and deceit together is as close of an experience that a non war veteran will get of the war. If the book was strictly factual it wouldn’t have the element of the psychological feelings of the war, just the physical aspect.
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