Review: Tim O'Brien's 'The Things They Carried'

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In Tim O'Brien's The Things They Carried, the main theme is that the young men of Alpha Company carry many physical and emotional burdens which linger on long after the war. As they walked through the jungles and swamps of South Vietnam, they carried weapons, equipment, personal items, and also carried the dead and wounded off the battlefield as well as the guilt for having survived. First Lieutenant Jimmy Cross carried the responsibility for the men under his command and guilt about the war they died, as well as a peculiar love for Martha that was probably not real. All of them carried fear, not only of the enemy but also the fear of appearing to be fearful, cowardly or dishonorable, which was very similar to George Orwell's fear of looking indecisive or weak in front of the natives in his short story "Shooting an Elephant". Like Orwell's characters his novel Burmese Days, they are often skeptical about the war and the entire colonial-imperial enterprise in Asia, finding the death of their comrades in the jungles and swamps to be futile and pointless. They will carry all the memories and images with them for the rest of their lives, just as Orwell did of his many experiences. Tom O'Brien also carried the burden of recalling and recording the war and its aftermath, although like his namesake in Orwell's 1984, by his own description of these characters and events may or may not be true. In general, the entire atmosphere of the novel could be described as Orwelllian, with a
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