The narrator - Ultimately, The Things They Carried is more about its narrator than anybody else, and although it feels at times like a book about war, it is ultimately a book about the narrator's coming to terms with his past. Although the narrator is frequently called "Tim," or "O'Brien," the author and the narrator are not entirely the same person. Unlike O'Brien's work If I Die in a Combat Zone (Box Me Up and Ship Me Home), The Things They Carried is deliberately not an autobiography.
Jimmy Cross - More than any other character, Lieutenant Jimmy Cross has to deal with the weight of responsibility. All the other soldiers experience death and horror, but they also all seem to take solace in the senselessness of war. Because he is in charge of the platoon, however, Jimmy Cross blames himself for every soldier's death.
Mitchell Sanders - Sanders is one of the most likeable soldiers in the platoon, and the one who makes the greatest impression on the narrator. Sanders is kind, devoted to his fellow soldiers, and possesses a keen sense of justice. He makes his impression on O'Brien by serving as the platoon's chief storyteller and story critic. As such, Sanders is a kind of father figure in the book, guiding the narrator towards his own revelations about memory and writing.
Kiowa - Kiowa is the narrator's best friend in the platoon, who dies when the platoon mistakenly camps in a latrine on the banks of the Song Tra Bong. Kiowa's death is given greater prominence in the text than his life. When Kiowa does speak, he is shown to be a character of great compassion and intelligence. His death, more than any of the others, speaks of the senseless cruelty of the war.
Norman Bowker - Norman Bowker is a quiet soldier during the war, and we learn that a few years after the war, he commits suicide. Bowker embodies the damage that the characters carry with them even after the war is over. His story, particularly his