“The Things They Carried” Tim O’ Brien, having the memories of war engraved in his mind, recalls the memories of his youth during battle in “The Things They Carried,” an intriguing collection of military accounts that symbolize his attempt to resist closure from past experiences. O’ Brien’s story reflects the difficult choices people have to make in their struggle to confront the war waging inside their bodies as well as on the ground they tread. In Steven Kaplan’s criticism, “The Undying Uncertainty of the Narrator in Tim O’ Brien’s The Things They Carried,” he explores the uncertainty and inevitability that lies in the path of each soldier through their military conquest of Than Khe. In context to O’ Brien’s story, author Tina Chen in her literary criticism, “Unraveling the Deeper Meaning: Exile and the Embodied Poetics of Displacement in Tim O'Brien's The Things They Carried,” captivates O’ Brien’s primary motive of telling a “true” war story. These stories and journals can be synthesized together through paralleling ideas such as the concept of imagination versus reality, O’ Brien’s credibility to his story without outside sourcing, and the lingering uncertainty dividing the men’s sanctity of what lies beyond, both literally and figuratively. Tim O’Brien’s short story, “The Things They Carried,” contemplates the value of reality versus personal relevance, and through Kaplan’s “The Undying Certainty of the Narrator in Tim O’Brien’s The Things They Carried,” and Chen’s “Unraveling the Deeper Meaning: Exile and the Embodied Poetics of Displacement in Tim O'Brien's The Things They Carried,” the two authors argue within the scheme of the imaginative American dream the hidden angst of the valiant; when faced with adversity, the weight of ones pride surpasses the weight of ones fear.
The discussion between imaginative details versus the concrete reality is argued between Kaplan and Chen’s criticisms. Within Kaplan’s criticism, he states that
Cited: Chen, Tina. "Unraveling the deeper meaning": Exile and the embodied poetics of displacement in Tim O 'Brien 's The Things They Carried. Madison: University of Wisconsin Press, 1998. 77-98. ProQuest Research Library . Web. 10 Apr. 2013. Kaplan, Steven. The Undying Uncertainty of the Narrator in Tim O 'Brien 's The Things They Carried. N.p.: University of Southern Colorado, 1993. 43-52. EBSCO. Web. 10 Apr. 2013. O 'Brien, Tim. The Things They Carried. N.p.: Esquire Magazine, 1987. 99-111. Literature and the Writing Process. Web. 10 Apr. 2013.