Response to “The Things They Carried”
The characters of the story “The Things They Carried” mainly were inflicted with two kinds of weights: physical and emotional burden. In the first chapter, Tim O’ Brien sets up his storytelling by writing long lists of the things the soldiers were carrying in the War in Vietnam. Beyond the basic gears of war, he goes on mentioning the personal luggage that varied from person to person, mostly depending on their necessity, helping the reader to get to know the protagonists in a deeper sense this way. To know their souls, their customs, and the way they would probably live their “normal” lives. A letter, a photograph, a bible, the drugs, condoms, comic books, and a pair of moccasins are all life-story-telling property. In addition to the physical burdens, O’ Brien tells about the emotional pressure one had to wear on the shoulders during the war, which was believably the greatest mass: "They carried all the emotional baggage of men who might die. Grief, terror, love, longing--these were intangibles, but the intangibles had their own mass and specific gravity, they had tangible weight. They carried shameful memories. They carried the common secret of cowardice.... Men killed, and died, because they were embarrassed not to." We can see their fears, their happiness through these things, the way they couldn’t just get over the tragedies and terrors of war, their beliefs, their last refuges to grip on to in a hopeless situation, the things that pull them apart, and the things that bound them together as a team. A team in a desperate situation, still struggling to find their roots to remain what they were before the hell on earth started: human beings.
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