The Things They Carried

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Elizabeth Caldwell
Prof. Moffitt
4/16/2013

The Things They Carried by Tim O’Brien continuously uses repetition of talking about the items the soldiers carry mentally and physically to show the burdens of war. Each item O’Brien talks about tells a little about each character and what fears they try to escape from. An example would be “Dave Jensen carried three pairs of socks and a can of Dr.Scholl’s foot powder as a precaution for trench foot.” (O’Brien pg.1) Jensen carried these things so you could be very clean and sanitary this what his break to get away from the chaos that the war brought. All the soldiers have a common fear of death or being seen as a coward during many hardships of the war. To get away from all the pressure and terror war brought each soldier had their own way of coping.

The symbols in The Things They Carried help to make the text more meaningful and how show the theme throughout the story. One of the symbols, the dead Vietnamese soldier, represents the horrors of the war and what all of the soldiers experience on the battlefield. The author copes with the death of the soldier as he does with the other throughout the story. He thinks about what kind of person the soldier was, what he did before the war and what he will do after. Throughout the story O’Brien talks about the burdens of the Vietnam War. All the soldiers carried at least fifty pounds of equipment on their back. That is a lot of weight to continuously carry physically all day long. On top of the physical loads the soldiers carried they also had emotional loads. The narrator says,” Grief, terror, love and longing - these were intangibles, but the intangibles had their own mass and specific gravity, they had tangible weight (p.3)." While they had to deal with fear constantly they also had to worry about their reputations. Every soldier didn’t want to be seen as a coward by the enemy or by all of his fellow soldiers.

O’Brien shows repetition of the soldiers having to...
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