Critical Analysis - the Things They Carried Essay

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“The Things They Carried”

In the short story “The Things They Carried”, Tim O’Brien wrote about the experience of war and the feelings young soldiers felt during their long days of travel. During the story he keeps referring back to the things the soldiers chose to carry in their packs. Some of these items included necessity items like grenades and ammunition, but they also carry sentimental items like love letters and pictures. These items help the reader better understand each person for who they are and help us to understand the physical situation the soldiers are in. In “The Things They Carried”, Tim O’Brien describes the item the soldiers carry in their packs and the emotional weight they carry to help give a better
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The whole atmosphere…they carried gravity” (O’Brien 124). The reader is given much attention to the weight and pressure of all the external forces the soldier would carry. But the greatest of weight the men carried with them was not physical at all. It was their emotions: “Grief, terror, love, longing these were intangibles, but the intangibles had their own mass and specific gravity, they had tangible weight.” (O’Brien 126) Throughout the story, O’Brien gives long, tedious, monotonous and utterly boring lists of the things the men carried. “The things they carried were largely determined by necessity” (O’Brien 117), but each man’s necessities were different. All of the men carried very heavy loads to begin with, and added to these loads things that seemingly lightened their burdens. O’Brien’s point behind all this listing is to show the reader just how much physical weight these men carried and how slow and tedious the war in which they fought was. “They moved like mules… it was just the endless march, village to village, without purpose, nothing won or lost.” (O’Brien 124) Many of the soldiers carried personal possession from back home to remind them of the life they had left. Jimmy Cross carried a picture of Martha and letters she wrote to him. Jimmy Cross also carried the pebble Martha sent to him from the Jersey shore. This would remind him of how he yearned to be back at home with her. Kiowa carried
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