The Thing’s They Carried Analysis Essay

The Thing’s They Carried Analysis Essay

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        Tim O’Brien’s “The Things They Carried” is a very character driven story. The author essentially uses the characters to tell the story. Each of the characters are unique in their own way, however they also share certain similarities, which no doubt spring up from the awful situation that they have been put in. All of the soldiers in the short story are very young and have their own unique way of coping with the trauma associated with being at war. The soldiers in "The Things They Carried" use drugs, fantasy and memories as coping mechanisms to escape the everyday horrors of the war while retaining their sanity, but must ultimately give up their fantasies and accept the situation they are in.
        As First Lieutenant, Jimmy Cross is the highest ranking member in the short story, thus the other characters look to him to lead them. However, he is just as messed up as the rest of the soldiers are he just does not show it because the soldiers need someone to look up to. When listing Lt. Cross’s personal effects O’Brien deliberately includes “a responsibility for the lives of his men,” (O’Brien 271) and although responsibility is not tangible it does weigh him down. Jimmy deals with the war by fantasizing about a girl back home as much as he can. Try as he might, he cannot push the thoughts about Martha out of his mind and concentrate on the war. Sometimes the thoughts come unbidden and he find himself “suddenly, without willing it, … thinking about Martha” (274). Whenever a member of his platoons is killed, he blames himself for his distracted state. While marching down the trail he sucks on a pebble that Martha sent him and thinks about the New Jersey shore instead of looking for signs of ambush. He didn't want to be in ch...


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... Sanders loves to tell fellow soldiers stories, but a lot of the time he ends up lying; but he doesn't mean to facts are just lost or not remembered and he fills in the blanks with his own interpretations. Sanders copes with the war with his stories he tries to make his friends laugh and lighten things up, but most of the time no amount of funny stories are enough to cheer up the soldiers.
Tim O'Brien does a good job of bringing the characters of The Things They Carried to life. Their actions in times of incredible stress are believable, they act as any twenty something year old might. As a typical group of guys they try to suppress their feeling of fear and vulnerability by distracting themselves because they do not want to appear weak. Jimmy Cross and Henry Dobbins have their girl's back home, Ted Lavender has his drugs, and Mitchell Sanders has his stories.

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