The Things They Carried

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The Things They Carried
In “The Things They Carry” by Tim O’Brien, readers are taken on an in-depth emotional and physical journey with Alpha Company in Vietnam. O’Brien uses some basic but symbolic objects that soldiers carried in war to show an emotional connection with home. The emotional importance of the objects is specific to individual soldiers and carries a heavy burden on the emotional status of some soldiers. O’Brien puts heavy emphasis on personal objects and on the physical aspect of being a “grunt” in the Army. Also, the physical objects symbolize the suffering of War and the relentless burden soldiers must overcome. O’Brien details the weight value on all the objects carried by the soldiers to symbolize a solders suffering. The weight of duty, trauma of war and leaving love ones behind symbolizes the emotional and physical burdens soldiers carry in battle. For a soldier like Lieutenant Jimmy Cross war has become a sidebar in life. He is still emotionally attached to life in the states. Cross carries objects of home like personal letters and photographs. “To carry something was to ‘hump’ it, as when Lieutenant Jimmy Cross humped his love for Martha up the hills and through the swamps. In its intransitive form, ‘to hump’ meant ‘to walk’ or ‘to march,’ but it implied burdens far beyond the intransitive” (O’Brien 686). Many of the other soldiers “humped” objects like pantyhose, sling shot, soap, dental hygiene and even a bible. The personal objects symbolize the weight of burden each soldier suffer and the willingness to add on the extra weight to keep that emotional connection of home. For example, “On ambush, or other night missions, they carried peculiar little odds and ends…they all carried ghosts” (O’Brien 688). These objects symbolized feelings of family, a sense of home and safer places. The physical burden, however, is more of a necessity. Soldiers are required to carry incredible amounts of weight which is considered a...
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