The Things They Carried

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Marie Hawkins
Instructor: Daniel McNamara
English 102
2 October 2011
What Defines a Person by The Things They Carry

The author is Tim O’Brien The Things they Carried written in 1986. The story is told by the author almost 20 years after the Vietnam war, it tells a story of men in combat and the things they carried before, during and after the war and how many of the things the soldiers carried help to shape and define their lives. In life people are defined by the things they carry like social class, education or lack of; race, religious belief, what we possess, while the author states “it is determined by necessity”(637), while necessity does dictate and define our everyday lives, like school after the age of 30, some do it for career advancement, some do it to re-enter the job market, whatever the reason necessity dictates that it must be done. Throughout life it continues to dictate and shape and define the type of baggage that each person must carry throughout the life cycle, “each morning, despite the unknowns, they made their legs move. They endured” (637), that is exactly what most people do each day. O’Brien goes on to say “they carry the things inside maintaining a mask of composure”(647), something that the average person does every day they go to work pretend to be happy smile a lot, when on the inside they are not that happy for whatever reason, they made of had a fight before leaving home, they may have stood up on a train the entire trip to work one never knows the reasons why. In life many carry enormous baggage around daily just as many of the soldiers in the Vietnam war did, many who were left feeling cheated, hurt, angry, many families were changed by the loss of a love one the altered personality of a love one, families not understanding how a solider could not internalized or compartmentalize their feelings. Some people go through their entire life trying to figure that out, while some figure it out only after a tragedy of some...
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