Beyond The Things They Carried

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Beyond the Things They Carried

The Vietnam War began in 1954, consisting of many extensive, horrific years of battle that seemed to create more harm to the United States and its soldiers rather than to North Vietnam. The 500,000 United States military personnel returned home with the loss of the war and the loss of their friends on their minds. Although the physical and emotional experiences that the men went through is unfathomable, Tim O’Brien does a great job portraying what life as a soldier was truly like in the Vietnam War. In the book The Things They Carried, Tim O’Brien depicts the unstable emotional and psychological condition of the American soldiers through the symbolism of their belongings and personal anecdotes from their lives. The book opens with Tim O’Brien listing items that the soldiers needed to carry with them for life in Vietnam, such as a P-38 can opener, mosquito repellent, C rations, dog tags, and many more necessities, weighing around twelve to eighteen pounds in total. Many men also had the added weight of weapons needed for combat, which then added another five to twenty-six pounds depending on what weapon and the amount of ammunition necessary. On average, most men carried around thirty pounds, but the load was much higher when considering the emotional and psychological weight put on their shoulders from the impact of these items. Early on in the book Tim O’Brien states, “They carried all they could bear, and then some, including a silent
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