Psychological, Physical and Mental Burdens of the Troops in "The Things They Carried"

Topics: Posttraumatic stress disorder, Stress, Vietnam War Pages: 4 (1378 words) Published: February 1, 2011
Most authors who write about war stories write vividly; this is the same with Tim O’Brien as he describes the lives of the soldiers by using his own experiences as knowledge. In his short story “The Things They Carried” he skillfully reveals realistic scenes that portray psychological, physical and mental burdens carried by every soldier. He illustrates these burdens by discussing the weights that the soldiers carry, their psychological stress and the mental stress they have to undergo as each of them endure the harshness and ambiguity of the Vietnam War. One question we have to ask ourselves is if the three kinds of burdens carried by the soldier’s are equal in size? “As if in slow motion, frame by frame, the world would take on the old logic-absolute silence, then the wind, then sunlight, then voices. It was the burden of being alive” (81). This quote illustrates how these three burdens, when combined, could cause immense pressure on the soldiers, and one has to ask how the soldiers manage to cope with the pressure. An example of this pressure is according to the 1990 Veteran’s administration report one in every three Vietnam veterans suffer from post traumatic stress; this includes thirty percent of soldiers who went to Vietnam, or nearly one million troops, who succumbed to post-traumatic stress. Unlike physical burdens that can be eliminated in various ways, psychological and mental burdens cannot be rid of so easily and so in turn outweigh the physical burdens as well as take their toll on the soldier. The physical burdens that the soldiers carry are huge; however some of the weight can be lost or overcome if necessary. O’Brien uses three methods to emphasize the physical weight and burdens carried by each soldier. He first describes the standard operation procedure of items each soldier had to carry. The standard weight sums up to an average of sixty six pounds. However, each soldier carries items according to his rank or duties. For example...
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