The Things They Carried: Book Review
By: M**** F****
Often times, it’s difficult for generations set apart from a historical war, or for those who never served in the military, to truly understand the consequences of being a soldier. History books spell out the political and official side of a war story but it is only through personal accounts that one can come to appreciate the reality of the unnerving terror offered by war. In his novel, The Things They Carried, author Tim O’Brien creates a work of historical fiction that gives new meaning to personal accounts. The characters and situational plots bring a sense of depth to the Vietnam War that is not always confronted or even appreciated.
The novel’s stories are recounted from a narrative perspective describing occurrences within a platoon of the Alpha Company serving in Vietnam. O’Brien himself is the narrator describing through flash backs and written journal entries what the war was like through his eyes. The flashbacks are not written in sequence; rather, they jump from one point in time to another as they might in any real soldier’s thoughts. This unique perspective gives insight to how a former soldier thinks and dreams about what he encountered. The language of the book is true to the culture and creates doubt that any of the characters or events are fictional.
The platoon is made up of several important characters all having their own unique quirks, habits, ambitions and dreams. Death, injury and surviving are undoubtedly key elements to the stories, as are the things the soldiers carried with them. From emotions and memories to weapons and supplies, the things they carried are extensive both in context and in quantity. Each individual story within the book is a memory of O’Brien’s and sometimes is told from the perspective of his companion soldiers. The stories carry with them elements of grief, love, passion and guilt and the setting details are so intense the reader can practically hear...
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