Discuss the Idea of "Carrying" in O'Brien's "The Things They Carried". What Is Carried and by Whom?

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Tim O’Brien, in his collection of short stories called “The things they carried”, develops the theme of soldiers ‘carrying’ many burdens throughout their lives. Through his persona, also named Tim O’Brien, O’Brien contradicts the stereotypical reason as to why the men joined the war. Jimmy Cross explores the unwanted burden placed on a Lieutenant of the platoon member’s responsibility. Further O’Brien explores the affect of the Vietnam War on the soldiers on their wellbeing through Norman Bowker, who suicides as he is unable to deal with the memories and the pressure faced due to the war. the emotional burden from the memories, physical weight ‘humped’ by them during the war and the mental pressures enforced upon them are the different…show more content…
While most of these items were “largely determined by necessity” to aid them in their survival, other items involved personal items for comfort and support. The survival items involved things like guns, jackets, C rations and knives which altogether weighted around 65 pounds excluding the many other items men carried for comfort. These involved letters, pictures of loved ones, panty hose for Henry Dobbins, and tranquilisers for Ted Lavender which they claimed had the properties of “good luck charms” and helped ease the tension and pressure at war. While the things they carried where also determined by a “man’s habits or the rate of metabolism”, this “humping” became their nightmare after the war as they remembered the pain from the weight. Jimmy Cross, is the Lieutenant of the platoon, carried a “compass, maps, code books, binoculars, and a .45-caliber pistol which weighted 2.9 pounds when loaded”, plus a strobe light. Further he carried the personal items which included Martha’s letters, pictures and a good luck pebble which all provided a distraction from the war responsibilities and pressures. However when Ted Lavender is killed, Cross burns Martha’s pictures and letter blaming her to be the distraction which cost him Lavender’s death. While the platoon members, such as Norman Bowker, carried letter and diaries from loved ones. Norman, whose father “had his own war”,

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