Categorized | Feature Article
A Critical Analysis: The Things They Carried
Posted on 14 October 2008 by admin
By Ronnie Wright
In his short story The Things They Carried, author Tim O’Brien reveals the horrendous physical conditions and fears a man will subject himself to in order to save his reputation.
The story takes place around 1968. It’s a story about an Infantry Platoon fighting in the jungles of Vietnam and the weight, both physical and emotional, that they must carry. These modern day warriors were equipped with every piece of equipment you could imagine. Most of what the soldiers carried was largely determined by necessity, such as can openers, pocketknives, helmets and flack jackets (O’Brien 281). The combined weight of these items was between fifteen and twenty pounds (281). Some additional items they carried were determined by rank and field specialty and included many heavy items like radios, weapons, and ammunition (283). Some items they carried were because of superstitions (287). One soldier carried a rabbit’s foot while another carried a thumb that had been cut from the dead VC body (287). They also carried items for emotional comfort such as a bible or a pair of a girlfriend’s pantyhose (287). The combined weight of everything they carried was a tremendous load to hump under some extremely adverse conditions. The weather conditions in Vietnam are harsh with very hot and humid days and bitterly cold nights. During the monsoon season everything is drenched with rain and covered with mud. War does not wait on the weather. The terrain in Vietnam is either hilly or covered in rice paddies. This leaves only two options for most soldiers who travel on foot, either up and down hill or knee deep in muddy rice paddy. Both of which make for miserable humping. These soldiers carried their loads like mules (288). “They plodded along slowly, dumbly, leaning forward against the heat, unthinking, … toiling up the hills and down into the...