the things they carried

Topics: Short story, Vietnam War, Fiction Pages: 4 (1190 words) Published: April 21, 2014
Cassandra Reed
S. Matthews
Comp II
3 March 2014
The Things They Carried
The Things They Carried by Tim O’ Brien is a collection of twenty-two short stories about the mental and physical endeavors that the American soldiers in the Vietnam War that comes together in one short novel. In this collection O’ Brien often blurs the lines between fiction and reality in order to push the reader to sympathize with the soldiers as they carry guilt, shame, cowardice, malice, and confusion. Many of the soldiers in these stories seek relief from the emotional weight they carry, and O’ Brien uses storytelling to give these fictional characters a bit of closure of some kind. O’ Brien constantly makes us question the veracity of the stories we read by making the characters in the stories question themselves and include hearsay in their stories. The Things They Carried by Tim O’Brien seems like a simple war story from the beginning, but the stories soon reveal that the book is actually about the tangible and intangible weight that the soldiers in Vietnam were forced to carry.

O’ Brien begins the first vignette with a list of the physical items that the soldiers carry in Vietnam. This is almost a preview into the emotional burdens that they bear as well. He describes each character by giving a list of the physical objects and emotions that they carried with them. These things tell the reader about the priorities and constitutions of each character as well as setting a concrete footing for these fictional characters so that we picture them by the objects they carry. For Example, Ted Lavender carries marijuana and tranquilizers to keep calm. This reveals that he is consistently nervous. Also, Henry Dobbins is exceptionally large so he carries extra rations. Kiowa is revealed to be religious by the description of the illustrated New Testament that he carries. Some of the things that the men carry are common such as a two-pound poncho, weapons, ammunition, etc. The things they...
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