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The Things They Carried

By milopes50 Feb 27, 2013 652 Words
Throughout the book The Things They Carried by Tim O’Brien and the documentary “Dear America: Letters Home to Vietnam” the central feelings of fear and trepidation were prominent. As a reader, or viewer, I was able to take the feelings of the soldiers during the Vietnam War and translate it in a way to relate it to my own life. During Tim O’Brien’s The Things They Carried and the documentary “Dear America: Letters Home to Vietnam”, I experienced many different emotions that were brought on by the situations presented. From the very beginning of the novel where O’Brien listed off the things they carried, I felt uneasy. What started off as a simple list of tangible items they literally carried, morphed into emotional or mental baggage that weighed each of the men down in different ways. “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” (O’Brien 21). We all carry things with us that no one else can see. This is relatable not only to those who have fought in war, but also to the everyday person. The Greek Philosopher Plato once said “… everyone you meet is fighting a harder battle”. Whether this is a literal battle or an internal conflict invisible to the human eye, we all have something to carry. From the chapter “The Things They Carried” I was able to construe that there are some things that others can help us carry, like our back pack or a gun. On the other hand, there are also things that we must carry ourselves, like the feelings of fear, love, uncertainty, and ostracism. As I saw the progression of these insubstantial troubles creating more and more weight upon the backs of these soldiers, I began to think about how in my own life there are feelings that can create a sort or weight, even though it may not be in such an extreme circumstance as the Vietnam War. Yes, there are things that make me afraid, sad, embarrassed, and numerous other emotions all across the spectrum. However by learning about how the soldiers dealt with their feelings of fear and loneliness, I was able to deduce that pretending to not feel can weigh you down more than actually feeling it. All of the men in The Things They Carried suppressed their fear so the other men would not know they were afraid. This had detrimental effects on all of their mental states. Although these are fictional characters and circumstances, I know that the emotions they felt were real from watching “Dear America: Letters Home from Vietnam”. Being able to hear in a soldiers own words how terrified and lonely the situations in Vietnam were puts war in a whole new perspective for me. Personally, I feel as though I’m desensitized to violence. In fact, I’m a little bit fascinated by it, mostly because I have never experienced true violence right in front of my face. The only contact I have with violence is through a TV or computer screen. So watching this documentary filled with real men, real screams, and real gunfire was an eye opening experience. Tim O’Brien’s writing, although it does create a mental image, can not quite capture the essence of war that seeing it occur has to offer. Dear America confirms my belief that the terror these men felt during the Vietnam War was not only real, but was greater than I could ever be able to fathom. Throughout both Tim O’Brien’s The Things They Carried and the documentary “Dear America: Letters Home to Vietnam” the feeling of fear is prominent and palpable for the viewer. These two war exposés make the horrors seen during the Vietnam War accessible to the common man, a

The Items Which They Had In Their Arms and Backpacks

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