The Things They Carried- Tim O'Brien Essay

1775 Words8 Pages
“The War We Couldn’t Win” In Tim O’Brien’s “The Things They Carried,” O’Brien wanted to create a realistic picture of what the war in Vietnam was like. He did so by letting you get to know a little about each soldier and what they each carried with them along with the war. The ‘things’ the characters carried are both literal and figurative. While they all carry physical burdens, they also carry emotional burdens. Both of these ate away at the men; mind, body and soul. ‘Carry’ means to hold or support while moving, to transport, transmit, or transfer, but figuratively, ‘carry’ connotes bearing a grievance. After Ted Lavender was killed Lieutenant Jimmy Cross carried Lavenders burden with him because he felt personally responsible for his death. He was to busy thinking about Martha the one he loved, even though he knew she didn’t love him in return. L.T. Cross’s burdens were determined by his rank and his love of Martha. His burdens were heavier in the responsibility of his men and lower in the physical burdens of his rank. They ‘carried’ is continuously used throughout the story which conveys the responsibility and necessity, that enforces the men both physical and emotionally which can be difficult to bear. The items they physically carried could be determined by each man’s rank, time of day, and unique character. To start with O’Brien establishes the soldiers demanding physical responsibility listing the supplies of what each soldier carried. Carrying these materials is their duty, obligation and their responsibility. O’Brien first begins to tell about the necessary stuff the men must physically carry. The things they carried were largely determined by necessity (O’Brien 540). O'Brien depicts all of the "things" that appear in the first chapter in a precise, scientific style. The reader is told how much each object weighs,
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