Psychological, Physical and Mental Burdens of the Troops in "The Things They Carried"

1369 Words Jan 21st, 2011 6 Pages
Most authors who write about war stories write vividly; this is the same with Tim O’Brien as he describes the lives of the soldiers by using his own experiences as knowledge. In his short story “The Things They Carried” he skillfully reveals realistic scenes that portray psychological, physical and mental burdens carried by every soldier. He illustrates these burdens by discussing the weights that the soldiers carry, their psychological stress and the mental stress they have to undergo as each of them endure the harshness and ambiguity of the Vietnam War. One question we have to ask ourselves is if the three kinds of burdens carried by the soldier’s are equal in size? “As if in slow motion, frame by frame, the world would take on the old …show more content…
Dobbins the biggest man carries the M-60 machine gun that ways twenty three pounds and additionally he carries fifteen pounds of ammunition draped across his upper body. The soldiers also carry dead bodies when necessary, for example they carry Lavender’s body across to the field to wait for the helicopter “He was dead weight” (71). The term used by the soldiers to carry something was “hump” which symbolizes an obstacle. “In it’s transitive form, to hump meant to walk, or to march, but it implied burdens far beyond the intransitive” (69). To comfort themselves they carried items such as canned peaches, toothbrush, tranquilizers, diary, condoms and an old hunting hatchet. When the men discarded some of the weight, they knew of only two ways. The first is by throwing away weight while on marches. ”They would often discard things along the route of the march” (71), the soldiers would do this because they knew that helicopters would always come with fresh supplies. The second method is to die on the field. “Go limp and tumble to the ground and let the muscles unwind and not speak and not budge...” (81). Mental problems are burdensome for the soldiers, since these burdens cannot be extinguished. When soldiers are at war they are surrounded by responsibility, death and destruction. Adding to all this