The Things They Carried by Tim O'Brien

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Civil War General Sherman once said, “War is hell.” He was right. In the short story “The Things They Carried,” Tim O’Brien shows us the hell that our soldiers suffered. The narrator shows us a captivating, and up-close story about our soldiers in the Vietnam War. While the title relates to the story about things carried, but the soldiers carry more than just the physical burdens-in many cases, they are weighed down by emotional baggage. The emotional baggage that lies heavy in their hearts outweighs the physical weight. In addition to the items that they must carry, they also carry personal mementos. To show how much the soldiers are carrying the narrator tells us “things carried were largely determined by necessity.” Some of the necessities included, “P-38 can opener, pocket knives…candy, cigarettes…C rations and two or three canteen of water. Together, these items weighed between fifteen and twenty pounds…” The narrator goes on to give us even more detail about the things the soldiers carried; “….carried the standard M-16 gas-operated assault rifle. The weapon weighed 7.5 pounds unloaded, 8.2 pounds with its full twenty-round magazine….grenade launcher, 5.9 pounds unloaded…” By telling us exactly what the men carried and how much it weighed, it gives us an insight on the physical burdens that the men had to carry. The narrator tells us that the intangible items that these men carried proved heavier than any backpack and gun. The main character in the story is Lieutenant Cross, platoon leader. He is in love with a young girl in the United States. She is always on his mind and because he allows his thoughts to take him away and be with her. Because of this, he blames himself for the death of another platoon member even though there was nothing he could have done to protect him. “Lieutenant Cross felt the pain. He blamed himself.” “He pictured Martha’s smooth young face, thinking he loved her more than anything, more than his men, and now Ted...
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