14 February, 2011
“The Things They Carried” In the short story “The Things They Carried,” written by Tim O’Brien, there is a lot of symbolism in each specific object that was mentioned. According to Dictionary.com, a symbolism is the practice of representing things by symbols, or of investing things with a symbolic meaning or character. A symbol is something used for or regarded as representing something else; a material object representing something, often something immaterial; emblem, token, or sign. The things each soldier carried defined each individual soldier. The story was very detailed in the objects the soldiers carried which tied into the emotional things the soldiers carried. Most of the items each soldier had were very important for survival. “The things they carried were largely determined by necessity.” (O’Brien 596) They had their water, medical gear, foods, and most importantly weapons. Each soldier was locked and loaded with a specific war item. For example, Henry Dobbins, being the big guy, automatically made him the gunner, which led him to carry the 26 pounds of machinery called the M-60. The medic, Rat Kiley, was in charge of carrying the medical gear, including morphine, plasma, malaria tablets and surgical tape. The radio and telephone operator, Mitchell Sanders was in charge of carrying the PRC-25 Radio. This is just some of the things that were specialized to an individual according to their size or skill. But the soldiers also carried things that weren’t so necessary, yet they would bring it along anyways for certain reasons. The lieutenant Jimmy Cross carried letters, two photos, and a pebble sent to him by a woman named Martha. His decision to carry these items represented how much Martha meant to Cross. These objects symbolize his love for Martha because throughout the story, he often fantasizes about her instead of leading his soldiers. For example, in the story he fantasizes
Cited: O’Brien, Tim. “The Things They Carried.” Literature An Introduction to Fiction, Poetry, Drama, and Writing. Ed. X. J. Kennedy and Dana Gioia. 11th ed. New York: Longman, 2010. 595-607. Print.