Critical Essay On The Things They Carried

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Tim O’Brien’s The Things They Carried begins with a descriptive litany of equipment that First Lieutenant Jimmy Cross and his platoon carried through the jungles of Vietnam during search and destroy missions. The things they carried, rifles, amounts of ordnance, and personal effects depending on the mental and physical strength of each man which became entwined as a reflection of the physical and personal burdens that each man carried closely to during and after the Vietnam War. Although O’Brien writes in a style that ambiguously describes the truth and fiction of the events that occurred throughout the book, leaving the reader wondering whether if it is a work of fiction or non-fiction, the weight of the things the men carried, tangible and intangible, vividly describes the physical and emotional…show more content…
The “playing field was laid out in a strict grid, no tunnels or mountains or jungles. You knew the score. The pieces were out on the board, the enemy was visible, you could watch the tactics unfolding into larger strategies. There was a winner and a loser. There were rules” (O’Brien, 1990, p. 32). The war was not like a game of checkers, Lieutenant Cross questions the ambiguity of Vietnam War policy, explaining that “the very facts were shrouded in uncertainty: Was it a civil war? A war of national liberation or simple aggression? Who started it, and why?” (O’Brien, 1990, p. 40). There are no clear answers when war is waged. War is not as simple as a game of checkers. From policymakers and strategists to soldiers, war will inevitably take physical and emotional tolls on the participants of both sides on and off the battlefield that will last throughout their lifetimes. Tim O’Brien’s The Things They Carried eloquently describes stories of participating in the Vietnam War and the events that occurred, factual or not, and provides readers with the horrors of war that soldiers

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