The Things They Carried

In: English and Literature

Submitted By marcmill
Words 780
Pages 4
Emotional and Physical Burdens

In The Things They Carried the characters face many physical and emotional stresses which test their ability to remain strong individuals. O’Brien gives clear example to the emotional burdens the characters are faced with throughout their durations in the war as well as at home. Each story reflects a characters emotional and physical well being. Memories cascade their ways onto the shoulders of the character’s who seem to find emotional support by ignoring or just plain mocking the unpleasant. Subsequently, a few of the stories they tell seem to be in disarray but give the illusion of actuality. The responsibilities to their communities as well as their memories weigh the characters down causing catastrophic damage not only to their personal lives, but their physical well beings as a whole. Norman Bowker silently suffers throughout his duration in the war. Watching silently as his fellow comrade’s fall both emotionally and physically, Bowker never seems to show his emotions to the reader. In essence he has bottled up perceptions about his experience in the war and the death of his comrade Kiowa. In “Notes”, the letter received by O’Brien gives way to a different Bowker, full of emotional agony from deep within. Bowker’s death was one of the most catastrophic events throughout the book. The emotions seemed to pour out as he writes in his letter to O’Brien the effects of the community and the sudden thrust back into the civilian world, in his letter he writes,“[t]he thing is, there is nowhere to go. Not just in this lousy little town. In general. My life, I mean.” (O’Brien 156). Losing Kiowa was a big part of Bowker’s self destruction as he felt that he was to blame. Bowker’s emotional state after leaving the war was in much disarray. His most difficult task was adjusting to the norms of society and keeping a firm grip of…...

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...The Vietnam War: Weight of Emotions “The Things They Carried” is a short story that describes a group of soldiers and the tangible and intangible items with which they chose to burden their bag packs and hearts. The author creatively manipulates two different ideas, such as ambiguous morality and loneliness to exaggerate the theme which is of physical and emotional burdens. The soldiers carried vital items for survival during this difficult time of their lives. The men tried to take comfort in the personal items and memories they brought with them while they were away from home. With a list of each item a solider took to war, the author carefully pieces together a puzzle about who these characters are. O’Brien’s use of imagery helps to visualize the battle field and understand the soldiers. As the story starts to unfold, the reader is greeted by a love struck narrator by the name of Lieutenant Cross. O’Brien describes the relationship between the narrator and Martha, a girl from back home who he is in love with, but she in return does not share the same feelings. Cross carries letters she wrote and fantasizes daily of their illusive love. His love for Martha becomes more of an obsession. “He loved her so much he could not stop thinking about her” (O’Brien 598). His constant question of her love for him causes Cross to fall short of his responsibilities as the leader of the platoon. “Slowly, a bit distracted, he would get up and move among his men, checking the......

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...What We Learn from “The Things They Carried” “War is a bitch” (O’Brien 30), said Azar, an American soldier who joined Vietnam War. War doesn’t bring anything good to anybody. It just creates sorrow and pains to people. In “The Things They Carried”, the author Tim O’Brien shows us a realistic picture of what the war in Vietnam was like. He demonstrates how brutal the war is and the horrible reality of death in war, and how soldiers deal with the pain. This novel should be on the reading selections of The Interpretation of Literature because as it is a novel composed of war stories, it brings some enlightening endeavor and educational experiences to make us understand more about the war. To make us have an objective perspective of what happened in Vietnam War in 1968, O’Brien let us know a little about each soldier and what they carried with them along with the war in the first chapter. The “things” that the soldiers carried were both literal and figurative. The soldiers carry out of necessity for survival, such as guns, helmets, and other forms of weaponry, as well as things they carry more out of habit. First Lieutenant Jimmy Cross carried letters from Martha, a girl that he loved. “Henry Dobbins, who was a big man, carried extra rations, Dave Jensen, who practiced field hygiene, carried a toothbrush, dental floss, and several hotel-sized bars of soap. Ted Lavender, who was scared, carried tranquilizers”(2). O’Brien also describes specifically the weight of the item......

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...Tim O'Brien does a fantastic job of blurring the lines of what is true and what is fiction in The Things They Carried. In fact, he often points out that he has made entire stories up, after the fact. He defends his decisions by proposing that what he has done is, in fact, not lie, but rather tell a story-truth. He argues that his reason for doing this is to bring the story to life more than it could live through the happening-truth. 'I want you to feel what I felt. I want you to know why story-truth is truer sometimes than happening-truth' (O'Brien, 183). O'Brien believes that, when accompanied by vivid details which essentially make the reader view the scene as a dream, story-truths can carry greater emotional truths than ever possible to be achieved through actual, happening-truths. With this, he shows, contrary to belief, how story-truths are often truer than happening-truths, and demonstrates this through the addition of often graphic details. Happening-truth encompasses actual events that take place. However true these stories may be, they are often times viewed as unreal simply because they have no details to back them up. The entire shit field scene that was put into this book, for example, was turned from a happening-truth into a story-truth because the original version was not believable. The reader can see this through O'Brien describing the letters that he received from Norman Bowker. Norman writes to Tim, telling him that he should write about the event. 'What...

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The Things They Carried

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