In the short story “The Things They Carried”, Tim O’Brien wrote about the experience of war and the feelings young soldiers felt during their long days of travel. During the story he keeps referring back to the things the soldiers chose to carry in their packs. Some of these items included necessity items like grenades and ammunition, but they also carry sentimental items like love letters and pictures. These items help the reader better understand each person for who they are and help us to understand the physical situation the soldiers are in. In “The Things They Carried”, Tim O’Brien describes the item the soldiers carry in their packs and the emotional weight they carry to help give a better understanding of each person. Tim O’Brien discusses some the necessity items that each soldier carries which include “P-38 can opener, pocket knifes, heat tabs, wrist watches, dog tags, mosquito repellant, chewing gum, candy, cigarettes, salt tablets, packets of Kool-Aid, lighters, matches, sewing kits, Military Payment Certificates, C rations, and two or three canteens of water” (O’Brien 117). These items alone would range between 15 and 20 pounds. Tim O’Brian talks about how much each item weighs down to the ounce to show how much weight each of the soldiers carry. This weight varies between each soldier and what they prefer to carry in their packs. It is very important that each person know exactly how much weight they will be carrying, because they never know how far they will be traveling from day to day. Each soldier also carried steel helmets which weighed 5 pounds. What the soldiers carried also varied by mission. When describing items, O’Brien frequently tells how much it weighs. “The weapon weighed 7.5 pounds unloaded, 8.2 pounds with its full twenty-round magazine. The rifle men carried anywhere from twelve to twenty magazines… adding on another 8.4 pounds at minimum, fourteen pounds maximum” (O’Brien 119).
Cited: O’Brien, Tim. “The Things They Carried.” Literature and the Writing Process. Ninth Ed. Elizabeth McMahan, Susan X Day, Robert Funk, and Linda S. Coleman. Pearson/Printice.2007.