They Things They Carried
English 111 2pm
Tim O’Brien authored the novel “The Things They Carried” a novel filled with short stories about the Vietnam War. The first passage in the collection lists the numerous things the solders in O’Brien’s platoon carried. Varying from weapons, to thoughts of loved ones back home. Distorting the line between the tangible and intangible, O’Brien writes about the things like bibles, pantyhose, moccasins, and pictures. Things the men carried tangibly, but are used to give them something to think about other than the waning darkness of the war, that making them intangible. The intangible things are used to escape the war; weighing heavier than anything tangible possibly could. Specifically, they are burdened with death. The men carry the intangible burden of death, something always on their minds and weighing more than anything tangible they could ever carry. They did what they could not to acknowledge death, each using their own techniques try and put a spin on and lift the emotional baggage of war and war’s mortality.
To truly understand the men’s view of death in the war, we must pay attention to the stories. What words are chosen to describe a person’s death and how that person deals with the loss? Rat Kiley deals with his frustration about Curt Lemon’s death by brutally killing a water buffalo. They blame themselves like Lt. Cross, whose heaviest burden was Ted Lavender’s death. When Ted Lavender dies O’Brien writes “They carried al the emotional baggage of men who might die. Greif, terror, love, longing.” Lt. Cross believed that his loving of Martha more than his love for his men was the cause of death to Ted Lavender. In the story “Love” Lt. Cross said “he’d never forgiven himself for Lavenders death. It was something that will never go away.” After all those years, Lt. Cross still blamed himself for the death and carried that intangible burden with him. After the death of Lavender, Lt. Cross used the grief...
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