What Were the Things They Carried

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Ashley Phillips
10/10/2012
ENG 112-Cox
Essay Prompt 2
What Were The Things They Carried
An author commonly uses literary devices in their text to both interest the audience, and to create a bigger depth to their work. In “The Things They Carried”, there are a few different elements Tim O’Brien uses to captivate his audience. Imagery, symbolism, and theme were a few of the devices he chose to use in this work. Throughout the story, he explains what the men carried, and by doing so, created a depth to this story that wouldn’t have been shown otherwise. The things they carried were of importance to them, as well as important to explaining their story and their life at war.

The way that O’Brien lists the things they carried is extremely important to the storyline because it shows what was really important to the men. He starts off with, “The things they carried were largely determined by necessity” (1476). These items were small things that are important, but no one really takes a second to think about them if they didn’t have them. It shows how necessary things in people’s lives are not as significant as they should be. Although he lists things like pocket knives, mosquito repellant, and sewing kits, he is really listing the small things in life we take for granted, but are necessary for our survival. “What they carried was partly a function of rank, partly of field specialty” (1478). This is where O’Brien lists the things that were needed by each man, because of what he did as part of the group. He starts off explaining each man with “As a…” to show that the man was carrying what he was carrying because he had to, because it was his job. This is where O’Brien explains that we all carry responsibilities because of choices we make in life, and that we must live with those choices, and carry out our duties. The things they carried “varied by mission” (1480). They carried things that they knew they would need in different environments. To be prepared for what...
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