“the Things They Carried: the American Experience”

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“The Things They Carried: The American Experience”

In the story "The Things They Carried," Tim O'Brien talks a group of soldiers in the Vietnam War. He does this by describing the items that each of them carries with him during the march. The things that the soldiers carry with them are both physical and mental items and what these things are depends upon the soldier. They carry the basic "necessities" for survival and the bare minimum to make life as civilized as possible. But they also carry memories, and fears, and it is mental items like these that are the main focus of the story. The weight of these items is as real as that of any physical ones, and unlike those physical objects, they are not easily gotten rid of. Throughout the story, O'Brien switches between narrative passages and simple descriptions of the items that the soldiers are carrying. This division makes you focus on the things the men are carrying, both tangible and intangible, without restraining the narration. In the descriptive segments of the story, O'Brien is very exact in his descriptions and seems to be merely cataloging what is being carried: "As a first lieutenant and platoon leader, Jimmy Cross carried a compass, maps, code books, binoculars, and a .45(c)caliber pistol that weighed 2.9 pounds full loaded." O'Brien gives only straight forward descriptions in these segments and the writing is void of any feeling or sentiment. When describing the intangible things, however, the writing is a lot more in tune with the emotions of the characters: "Jimmy Cross humped his love for Martha up the hills and through the swamps...Lieutenant Cross remembered touching her left knee. A dark theater, he remembered,...when he touched her knee, she turned and looked at him in a sad, sober way that made him pull his hand back, but he would always remember." O'Brien's writing takes on a softer style in these sections and adds a great deal of emotion for the reader. This contrast in narrative style is...
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