The Things They Carried

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Development Through Lists and Repetition In The Things They Carried The Things They Carried is a story by Tim O’Brien that is comprised of many short stories that all come together to tell a winding tale from many viewpoints of one war story through the Vietnam war. The first story in the book, also entitled The Things They Carried, is literally a story about what the soldiers carried with them, both physically and emotionally. As an introductory story to the entire novel, O’Brien uses the opportunity to introduce the setting and characters in a very non-traditional way. O’Brien uses lists and repetition to show how tedious each day of work is for a soldier, but also how the soldiers perceive what is to us extraordinary as a normal day’s work. The lists also describe the emotional baggage each soldier carried, such as First Lieutenant Jimmy Cross’s (the leader of the squad) love for a girl back home. O’Brien’s use of lists and the repetition gives the reader a good impression of the lifestyle of the soldiers in Vietnam without outwardly and directly saying so, subsequently giving him a stronger argument by allowing the reader to attain the understanding of the situation on their own. The lists O’Brien uses in the story give clarity to the setting of the emotional and physical setting the story takes place in. When one thinks of a list, the natural conclusion is a dull and repetitive page of words, possibly bulleted or in some other such order, but never really all that interesting to read. O’Brien uses this to his advantage to give the reader a true sense of what the experience in Vietnam was for the common soldier, while at the same time not describing it outright, which is something he says later in the story cannot be done in simple words. In one of the passages early on in the story a list that demonstrates this point is clearly written, “Henry Dobbins, who
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