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The Things They Carried by Tim O’Brien appears to be a war story about items a platoon of soldiers carried while in Vietnam. The story actually centers around the death of one of the platoon members and the horrible conditions of Vietnam. But the author goes into a deeper, hidden meaning of the things.He subtly expresses the ideas that the soldiers carried with them more than just hear, they carried the items from back home, emotional baggage,and the death of their fellow comrades. And the pain and horror they have to endure is only bearable with these items and the symbolism of hope they have with them. Because with each item they carry the hope of returning home and the hope of making it back home the same person.In the unforgivable wilderness of Vietnam,the young soldiers are forced to carry heavy artillery and supplies.
Still these terrified men go up the extra weight to take letters,pictures, and other things that remind them of the people back at home. These things can be weighed in 40 pounds and ounces and put a strong physical strain of the soldiers.. However, the emotional burdens Tim O’Brien describes in “The Things They Carried” are the most difficult weights they have to bear. O’Brien lists the required supplies carried by all of the soldiers and gives examples of the personal things each soldier chooses “to hump”, which means “to march” or “to walk” (137).
O’Brien gives great detail of the internal, emotional struggles that weigh so heavily on the Lieutenant. Cross physically carries letters, photographs and a “simple pebble, an ounce at most” all given to him by a junior at Mount Sebastian College, named Martha (The Things They Carried 12). All things considered, considering the unending risk they look in Vietnam, the psychological weight each man worries about is a significantly heavier concern.. “Grief, terror, love, longing- these were intangibles, but the intangibles had their own mass and specific gravity, they had tangible weight” (The Things They Carried 9). Long after the heavy artillery fire and gunshots cracking through the air, some of the pressure of the war is lifted from their shoulders,but the emotional scars will remainO’Brien doesn’t offer as much detail into the emotional baggage carried by Cross” men, but each of the soldiers carried with them something from home. Kiowa carries a copy of the Old Testament, which was given to him by his father (The Things They Carried O’Brien 22). He is also carries the tremendous weight of “his grandmother’s distrust for the white man” and a hunting hatchet (The Things They CarriedO’Brien 22). These emotional and physical items imply that Kiowa, who is Native American, struggles to put the vital trust into his allies, as a result of his upbringing.Dave Jensen, who carries extra socks,high carotene vitamins, foot powder,and ear plugs, seems to have an staggering fear of disease.
Mitchell Sanders carries condoms, which doesn’t make sense or offer any insight however, be that as it may, he is additionally the soilder who cuts the thumb off of a young Vietcong and gives it to another soldier, Norman Bowker (Speaking Of Courage O’Brien 142). The demonstration of removing a young man’s thumb and after that kicking him in the head shows that Sanders is battling with some emotional instability, and a lack of respect for life.These issues might be an immediate aftereffect of the war, or may have been present before in his life.The impacts of these physiological battles is outlined by Cross” failure to control his fantasies about Martha. He gets himself unfit to concentrate on the dangers around him, even as Lee Strunk is looking through the passages in Than Khe, confronting unknown dangers. lieutenant Cross loses himself in a daydream. Through a war there will be a lot of bloodshed, the enemies and even yours. With all the gunfire and shots being fired, people dropping you have no time for grievance. But after a while when you one one by one your friends die, the burden of living with that, the doubt of if you could of saved him or not. All of that starts to pile up and slowly unravel you.
In The Things They Carried many people had to watch as their friends died Curt Lemon being the first. Trying to make some sense of the war or relieving the tension Kurt started playing toss with a smoke grenade with Rat Kiley. Then he stepped on a landmine and blew up. And after seeing so much death you become numb and feel no agony, you slowly start to lose it. Jensen and O’Brien were ordered to climb the tree to retrieve Lemon’s body, and Jensen sang “Lemon Tree” as they threw down the body parts.(182 “How to Tell a True War Story”) The fact that a friend dying out of nowhere doesn’t cause tears, doesn’t cause concern shows how war breaks you. When someone you know dying isn’t a big deal because people die everyday, you start to cope with it in different ways. In this case jenson started singing as he picked up his friend’s body parts.And after that Ted Lavender was the second body to hit the floor. Ted lavender just went out to take a piss and then a crack ripped through the air, his friends watching him drop, lying in a pool of blood. This causes Jimmy cross to start blaming himself for his death. “He had loved Martha more than his men, and as a consequence Lavender was now dead, and this was something he would have to carry like a stone in his stomach for the rest of the war”. (The Things They Carried.16)
This haunts Jimmy Cross through the book. All of these characters are haunted by guilt, looking for someone or something to blame. They are shattered into pieces scattered across the battlefield. Cracking jokes about the death of comrades, trying to cope, or find meaning in the death of the war. When you hear of war stories you never hear of the death, or the excruciating toll it has on your mind and your body. The guilt, emotional baggage and simple watching as your friends drop one by one can break a man. All of this stuff piled on causes you to lose yourself, act like someone your not. You cling on to anything so that you don’t lose it, or fall down into the black. Just how each soldier brought something with them, carried it wherever they went. They carried the objects from home, but they also carried the weight of the war on their soldiers.
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