Priceless Objects (The Things They Carried)

Topics: Army, Vietnam War, The Reader Pages: 3 (443 words) Published: April 20, 2014
John Sumpter
Priceless Objects
In “The Things They Carried” Tim O’Brien brings fiction and autobiography together in this story about the Vietnam War. O’Brien also uses a very unique style in order to give the reader more understanding in the value of the objects the soldiers carry by using the repetition of the word and instead of using commas. Although this style may seem glorified from an artistic point of view, the audience might find themselves skipping ahead the long repetitious lists. Luckily for the readers, skipping the lists will not take away from the story’s main point.

“The Things They Carried” deals with the physical nature of the Vietnam War along with the mental struggles men have to overcome. Most of the soldiers carry objects that contain a particular memory so they can have something that brings comfort from a life that has not been spoiled by war. Even with the comfort of home the endurance of the soldier’s will is constantly tested by the fear of uncertain death.

O’Brien introduces Lieutenant Jimmy Cross as the company leader who often has daydreams about the unrequited love of a girl named Martha. Cross carries memorabilia of Martha such as “pictures” (98) and a “good luck pebble” (99) to edge his mind off the burdens of war. This lets the readers know that Cross’s attention is not fully toward the leadership or protection of his platoon and may result in the reader questioning whether or not Cross is a suitable leader. Later on in the story Ted Lavender, a soldier from the alpha company, was shot going to the bathroom while Cross had Martha’s pebble in his mouth; this incident is the end of Cross’s obsession for Martha. Feeling guilty for Ted Lavenders death, Cross decides to mask his uncertainty and be the leader the alpha company needs him to be.

“The Things They Carried” allows the reader to capture the grotesque realism of death in the war and how some of the soldiers cope by making up comedic line of a company member’s...
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