The Weight of Emotion in "The Things They Carried"

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The Weight of Emotion in “The Things They Carried” Tim O’Brien, author of “The Things They Carried” shares the idea that humping emotions outweighs the physical agony that those in war must carry. “They carried all the emotional baggage of men who might die. Grief, terror, love, logging—these were intangibles, but the intangibles had their own mass and specific gravity, they had tangible weight” (126). O’Brian argues that fear, longing, responsibility, and uncertainty that the soldiers experience far outweigh the physical torture that they must endure in order to stay alive, these emotions are lightened only a little by the hope of returning home. The emotion that probably weights the most on these men is fear. This fear comes from many sources. The men are constantly haunted by the fear that they may die. Ted Lavender’s death and how the men react to it show it is impact on the soldiers. Kiowa expresses the sense of weight that the threat of death has on the men when he describes Labander’s death, “Boom Down, he said. Like cement” (119). Lavender’s death is described as being like stone something massive and heavy. The death of Lavender is repeated several times throughout the story. The repetition is used in order to show the fear in the men. This scene constantly goes through their head as they fearfully await their fate. This misleading of fate, in their minds, serves as emotional baggage that the men must sustain. Another emotional load that the men have to "hump" is the longing to be with loved ones. In the Vietnam War, many young men were forced to leave their wives and families to fight for a questionable cause. In this particular story, Martha serves as a representation of family. Lieutenant Cross, the man in charge of the soldiers, longs to be reunited with Martha. Martha occupies much of Cross’s time and weighs heavily on his

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