Tim O Brien's The Things They Carried

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“The Things They Carried” is a very real and harsh depiction of the Vietnam War from the eyes of a soldier on the ground. Rather than telling the story of his squad-mates lives and deaths in a traditional manner, the narrator tells their stories through the voice of the things they carried. They carried weapons and armor, rations and supplies, but they also carried photographs and bibles, letters from home and good luck charms. Each man carried something of his own that defined not only his rank and place within the squad, but also himself as a man and as a person outside the never-ending terror of the war. They carried things together, shared the weight of both objects and memories. They defined themselves through the extra weight they put…show more content…
all the things they carried” reflects the way the narrator of the story uses all the items the men carried to paint a picture of who they each were as individuals and as part of the team. Rather than telling a story in a traditional manner, as a story-teller would weave a chronological tale, he gives each man a life and personality through the things they carried. This story-telling technique brings each man to life in a way that is truly unique. They each carried a weapon, boots and a flak jacket, a helmet, rations, and water containers. They carried “the weight of memory” of all their fallen friends and of the people they love back home. (O'Brien 1041) They carried diseases that the land of their war had thrust upon them. They carried themselves and each other, sometimes with poise and dignity, sometimes in fear and panic, sometimes in awkward silence. “They carried their reputations,” the idea of honor and glory, and the soldier's fear of embarrassment. (O'Brien 1045) These things were all the same. Each man carried the same weight of fright and memory. The things they carried were also different. Their love for people back home- their family and their women. They carried different equipment for their specialties and missions. They carried different weapons, ideas, frights, and memories. They shared memories just as they shared the weight of equipment. They shared the burden of their fallen comrades, and they shared the load of the thirty-pound “scrambler radio.” (O'Brien 1041) They carried each other, physically when wounded, emotionally when distraught. Some of these things set the men apart- their awkward silences and personal memories, but others brought them together- their shared burdens. As the narrator weaves his description of the things they carried he tells us about each unique man and the team as a whole unit. The repetition of this phrase and its use in the description of every member of the team is a
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