Things They Carried by Tim O'brien Essay

Things They Carried by Tim O'brien Essay

Length: 1380 words (3.9 double-spaced pages)

Rating: Strong Essays

Open Document

Essay Preview

The short story, “The Things They Carried” was written by author Tim O'Brien in an unusual pattern. It contains a non-linear narrative of a short period in the life of a military unit active in Vietnam during the late 1960's, punctuated by an astonishingly vast inventory of items carried by each of the soldiers. The piece begins by introducing narrative and inventory items in somewhat separated sections, but as the story evolves the two categories become more and more mixed together, until it becomes apparent that who they are and what they are carrying are one and the same. It also becomes apparent that, in order for the unit's members to do the job they were sent to Vietnam to do, they need to streamline what they carry – only take what is needed to survive, dispose of the rest. This applies in a physical sense, where added weight can make them less physically effective, and also in an emotional/metaphysical sense, where the heavy psychic burden of trying to survive the day-to-day life of a warrior leaves no space for “extras”. In O'Brien's tale, there is an underlying question in all that he presents – what is a necessity, and what needs to be disposed of?
If “The Things They Carried” has a protagonist, it would likely be Lt. Jimmy Cross. He, along with his obsession over a girl back home named Martha, seems to be the main vehicle by which O'Brien portrays the arc of the process of finding a workable path through a difficult situation.
The author lays out the basic underlying explanation of what is carried near the beginning of the story: “The things they carried were largely determined by necessity” (O'Brien). At first, it appears that this is simply a reference to “things” that have physical dimension, the hardware o...


... middle of paper ...


...aders' minds, to make us go deeper when considering issues of right and wrong, our effect on the world around us, and its effect on us. If we use “The Things They Carried” as a springboard to asking ourselves, “How do I define 'necessity'?”, “What is TRULY important in life?”, and “What should I hold dear, and what should be left behind?”, then O'Brien's story will have served to encourage our awareness of our deepest beliefs, and how they relate to the world around us – an enlightenment that could help us to dispose of that which is not vital in our belief system. If the architects of the Vietnam War had been faced with a general public that had been enlightened in such a way, perhaps there would be no such war to speak of today.


Works Cited

O'Brien, Tim. “The Things They Carried.” Illyria. N.p., n.d. Web. 6 February 2014.

Need Writing Help?

Get feedback on grammar, clarity, concision and logic instantly.

Check your paper »

Essay on What is Love? Tim OBrien's The Things They Carried

- Have you ever felt the feeling of butterflies in your stomach or heard the phrase “my heart skipped a beat for you”. As children, we grew up learning from our elders and experiencing new beginnings in life. Much of our knowledge has been brought upon by what we see and hear, rather of what we know. Many important decisions we make in our life has to do with what our feelings show us. Love is an important matter in our life because it motivates us in different ways. Love can be shown through emotions or even through actions....   [tags: Love, Actions, Emotions]

Strong Essays
2291 words (6.5 pages)

Wilfred Owen's Dulce Et Decorum Est, Tim OBrien's The Things They Carried, and Siegfried Sassoon's Suicide in the Trenches

- Wilfred Owen's Dulce Et Decorum Est, Tim OBrien's The Things They Carried, and Siegfried Sassoon's Suicide in the Trenches Many war pieces express a distinct sense of truth, hatred, and anger that can be found in the style, tone, and imagery they possess. Incredible images are created in ones mind as war writings are read and heard. Works written by such writers as Siegfried Sassoon, Wilfred Owen, and Tim OBrien really reach out to the audience by way of the authors choice of words and images that they use in their writing....   [tags: Owen Dulce OBrien Carried Sassoon Essays]

Strong Essays
1362 words (3.9 pages)

War and Post Traumatic Stress Disorder in The Things They Carried by Tim Obrien

- Being in war is definitely one of the most life changing events a person will ever have whether it be for the better or for the worst. Soldiers will witness events that are impossible to forget or see back at home in the states. Some soldiers may have even seen one of their best friends that they’ve known for forever get blown up into pieces right next to them, or they might even get one of their own limbs blown off of their own bodies, becoming handicapped for life. As a result of seeing something so intense like that, most soldiers are usually traumatized....   [tags: soldiers, war, suicide, homelessness]

Strong Essays
1622 words (4.6 pages)

The Horrors of War: Coping In The Things They Carried Essay

- Author and Vietnam veteran Tim Obrien writes of the horrors of the Vietnam War through a collection of related short stories in his novel, The Things They Carried. It is a work of fiction mixed with bits of truth based on his experiences during the war. The novel is heralded by many as a modern classic and one of the quintessential novels to read in a lifetime. The novel has inspired two feature films, and can be found on the required reading lists of high school history classes and college literature courses across the United States....   [tags: Tim Obrien, Vietnam veteran stories]

Strong Essays
1552 words (4.4 pages)

Change In The Things They Carried Essay examples

- Change In The Things They Carried a war novel by Tim O'Brien, we are told many short stories compiled to make a whole. I want to emphasis on the importance of the chapter "Sweetheart of the Song Tra Bong". In this chapter we are introduced to the character Mary Anne. She shows the changing power of Vietnam, that a sweet innocent young girl can come into this land and be forever consumed by her surroundings. The speaker show us this through character action, character description, dialogue and metaphor; this enhances the literary work by showing us that the soldiers will always be a part of Vietnam no matter how hard they try to get away from it....   [tags: Tim O'Brien OBrien]

Strong Essays
1623 words (4.6 pages)

Coping Mechanisms in Tim O'Brien's The Things They Carried Essay

- During the Vietnam war, soldiers were not exposed to the traditional coping mechanisms of our American society, as illustrated in Tim Obrien's The Things They Carried. These men were forced to discover and invent new ways to deal with the pressures of war, using only their resources while in the Vietnamese jungle. It was not possible for any soldier to carry many items or burdens with them, but if something was a necessity, a way was found to carry it, and coping mechanisms were a necessity to survive the war....   [tags: The Things They Carried Essays]

Strong Essays
1515 words (4.3 pages)

The Thing 's They Carried By Tim Obrien Essay

- Tim Obrien’s novel, “The Thing’s They Carried,” centralized on the belief that storytelling can save our lives. When stories are told we look for meaning within the stories. Stories affect people in many different ways, and sometimes trying to tell a whole story does not always tell the real truth. He uses storytelling to deal with the loss and grief he encountered during the Vietnam War. Although he is sharing his stories post-war, he challenges his readers in deciding which stories are actually considered true war stories....   [tags: Life, Emotion, Army, Death]

Strong Essays
1261 words (3.6 pages)

The Things They Carried by Tim O'brien Essay

- Tim O’Brien wrote the novel The Things They Carried in 1990, twenty years after the war in Vietnam.In the novel,Obrien takes us through the life of many soliders by telling stories that do not go in chronical order. In doing so we get to see the physical and mental things the soldiers carry throughout the war in Vietnam.Yet the novel is more than just a description of a particular war. In the things they carried Tim O’Brien develops the characters in the book slowly, to show the gradual effect war has on a person....   [tags: vietnam war, soldiers]

Strong Essays
1168 words (3.3 pages)

The Things They Carried By Tim O ' Brien Essay

- In Tim O”Briens short story, The Things They Carried, clearly depicts the things the soldiers carried in order to push through and the challenges they faced daily in order to survive, but there is such a greater meaning behind the story. Tim O’Brien speak from the heart and makes the story connect with the reader, which in fact, makes the physical things the soldiers carry an emotional burden as well. To make that easier he disguises actual real life events with fiction. The majority of his book is fiction with some real life scenarios intertwined....   [tags: Fiction, Short story, Character, Novel]

Strong Essays
1588 words (4.5 pages)

Story Truth Vs. Happening Truth Using Tim Obrien's work Essays

- The Effect of "Story Truth" vs. "Happening Truth" Literature is such a beautiful thing because it does not give us an answer to it's questions. There are so many iffy spots that leave us to develop our own thoughts and feelings toward the piece of work. This is an interesting factor because at many times it affects us in a different way and can develop us as an individual. When reading a piece of literature, one person can interpret it in different ways than another person reading the same piece of work....   [tags: Tim O'brien]

Strong Essays
645 words (1.8 pages)