Tim O’Brien’s “The things they carried” is a story from the book “The Things They Carried” in which this individual story was written based on time of war. It is an incredible story that shows up in many different anthologies ways. The story comes in an authorial fictional statement on the Vietnam War were there’s a lot of really fascinating things about it.
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The story is brilliant in many ways, it studies the nature of young men in a time of war and also the incredible cost of distraction. One thing the author makes us noticed is how it goes about the characters development and how exhaustively it lists all the things that the men carry with the profound irony being that it’s not the “physical weight” of all the things that they are carrying that are really going to cause them problems in life, rather than the non-physical things that they carry for example, the emotions, the experiences, the memories, the guilt, and the regret “They shared the weight of memory.
They took up what others could no longer bear. Often, they carried each other, the wounded or weak ( 578). In the short story, O’Brien introduces a whole bunch of characters and manages to make them all distinct in this short amount of space but he owes that in large part to the ability to make them distinct through the things that they carry, some of the big elements in this story are not just the cost of distraction. Lt. Cross crosses distraction at spending all this Time thinking about Martha, a girl back home who probably doesn’t actually love him at all but he really wants her to love him because it gives him something to think about, someone who makes him think about home, something to take his mind off the war with. In the story, it shows various obsessions of Lt. Cross wishing he could have changed, such as he wishes he could go back and kiss Martha and do all of these things that he would have done differently. Although author Tim O’Brien makes the first impression of Lt. Cross like he doesn’t have it together because of his daydreaming of Martha and the killing of Lavender, “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.” (581) Jimmy Cross trusts O’Brien that he has never forgiven himself for the death of Ted Lavender.
lieutenant Cross tries very hard to be a good leader by coping with this very demanding situation, he and the other troops each have their little indulgences, which is a little rules way to stay psychologically stable in the midst of this horror (war). Other examples are that the medic, Bob “Rat” Kiley has his comic books, candy, and a bottle of brandy. Henry Dobbins carries the pantyhose of his girlfriend and the desire for love and comfort with them and Norman Bowker, the quiet Iowa boy, brings along his diary and a severed thumb took from the body of a dead Viet Cong. After the war men continue to define the psychological burdens during the war. Those survive the war will have guilt, confusion, and grief.
At the end of “The Things They Carried” the “things” are both figurative and literal. While each character has a heavy physical load, they all have a lot of emotional baggage within themselves, like grievance, love, terror, etc. The physical load of each man underscores the emotional burden. No matter how many materials burdens a man struggles, he will have to bear much more weight in the emotional realm. All the elements that O’Brien uses help to clarify that the many emotions a soldier carries to war far outweigh his physical agony. Whether one refers to the war in the time of the Vikings or the Romans, the scale will eventually tilt to emotional burdens when the physical and emotional baggage is weighed.
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