The Things They Carried Chapter Analysis

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The Things They Carried: Chapter 1
Significant Quote: “In the accompanying letter, Martha wrote that she had found the pebble on the Jersey shoreline, precisely where the land touched the water at high tide, where things came together but also separated.” (8) Speaker: Tim O’Brien

Audience: The reader
Significance: This symbolizes Martha and Jimmy’s feelings for each other. They are separated by the war, but together in their minds. Questions:
1.What prompted the separate-but-together thought?
2.Did Martha truly feel that way about Jimmy, or was there something else behind the thought process? The Things They Carried: Chapter 2
Significant Quote: “It doesn’t matter,” he finally said. “I love her” (29) Speaker: Jimmy Cross
Audience: Tim O’Brien
Significance: We see that, through all of the things that happened during the war, nothing had changed about Jimmy’s feelings toward Martha. Questions:
1.Why did he still feel this way, even after leaning that there was no point in loving her anymore, that she did not love him? 2.What had made Martha lose those feelings about Jimmy?

The Things They Carried: Chapter 3
Significant Quote: “But the thing about remembering is that you don’t forget. You take your material where you find it, which is in your life, at the intersection of past and present.” (34) Speaker: Tim O’Brien

Audience: The reader
Significance: As readers, we come to see how many stories come about: from the writers own experiences. Questions:
1.If he were to stop trying to remember, would he be able to forget? 2.Does this only apply to certain things, or all things that one would remember? The Things They Carried: Chapter 4
Significant Quote: “My whole life seemed to spill out into the river, swirling away from me, everything I had ever been or ever wanted to be.” (58) Speaker: Tim O’Brien
Audience: The reader
Significance: We see how hard it must have been to decide to go to war, what kind of courage it took not to run. Much harder, it seems, than it would have to be able to run from it. Questions:
1.Why did it take courage to run from the war?
2.How did Elroy Berdahl know this was what it took to make Tim realize what he really needed to do? The Things They Carried: Chapter 5
Significant Quote: “In any other circumstance it might’ve ended there. But this was Vietnam, where guys carried guns, and Dave Jensen started to worry.” (62) Speaker: Tim O’Brien
Audience: The reader
Significance: He shows us, the readers, how much different things were when you realized you were in the war and fights didn’t end just like that. Questions:
1.Why did Dave get so worked up over a missing jackknife?
2.Why did he think that Lee was going to retaliate?
The Things They Carried: Chapter 6
Significant Quote: “Later we heard that Strunk died somewhere over in Chu Lai, which seemed to relieve Dave Jensen of an enormous weight.” (66) Speaker: Tim O’Brien
Audience: The reader
Significance: We are shown how, even though you say that you want one thing, you can’t make it happen and wind up wanting the opposite. Questions:
1.Why did they make the pact if they weren’t going to pull through with it? 2.Why didn’t Dave kill him if he was bound by the pact?

The Things They Carried: Chapter 7
Significant Quote: “When a guy dies, like Curt Lemon, you look away and then you look back for a moment and then you look away again.” (71) Speaker: Tim O’Brien
Audience: The reader
Significance: He explains that the gory details of war and death are just as gripping as they are repulsive; you just have to look to make sure you know what you saw. Questions:
1.Why is it difficult to distinguish what really happened from what seemed to have happened? 2.Why can’t a true war story be believed?
The Things They Carried: Chapter 8
Significant Quote: “Anyone else would have laughed it off, but for Curt Lemon it was too much.” (88) Speaker: Tim O’Brien
Audience: The reader
Significance: In the war and soldier...
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