Written by author Tim O’Brien after his own experience in Vietnam, “The Things They Carried” is a short story that introduces the reader to the experiences of soldiers away at war. O’Brien uses potent metaphors with a third person narrator to shape each character. In doing so, the reader is able to sympathize with the internal and external struggles the men endure. These symbolic comparisons often give even the smallest details great literary weight, due to their dual meanings. The symbolism in “The Things They Carried” guides the reader through the complex development of characters by establishing their humanity during the inhumane circumstance of war, articulating what the men need for emotional and spiritual survival, and by revealing …show more content…
By mentioning common and familiar items such as gum, candy, and Kool-Aid, the characters become more than soldiers carrying ammo. It is easier for the reader to relate to the everyday accessible items. Despite being war heroes, as people often assume soldiers are, such symbols allow them appear as unique individuals with evolving personalities. O’Brien continues his allegorical index of items in the soldier’s inventory, which establishes the emotional and spiritual needs each soldier has for survival. Rat Kiley, the unit’s medic carried comic books and M&M’s which O’Brien describes as things necessary for a medic to carry. The passage that reads “Rat Kiley carried a canvas satchel filled with morphine and plasma and malaria tablets and surgical tape and comic books and all the things a medic must carry, including M&M's for especially bad wounds” (O'Brien 339-340), is a perfect example of such symbolism. The reader knows that comic books and chocolate candies have little to no medicinal value, but because they are carried with Kiley’s medical supplies required for survival, they are of import to Kiley’s emotional survival. Having no practical physical application, he uses the items as an emotional distraction or a coping mechanism. Beyond the emotional needs of the men, the reader is met with Kiowa’s spiritual need. Introduced early on in the text, O’Brien writes
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In Tim O’Brien’s “The Things They Carried”, O’Brien created several allusions that each character endured during the Vietnam War. Throughout the story were vast representations of the things the soldiers carried both mentally and physically. The things they carried symbolized their individual roles internally and externally. In addition to the symbolism, imagination was a focal theme that stood out amongst the characters. This particular theme played a role as the silent killer amongst Lt. Cross and the platoon both individually and collectively as a group. The theme of imagination created an in depth look of how the war was perceived through each character which helped emphasize their thoughts from an emotional standpoint of being young men out at war.
Another symbol O’Brien used in the story was the superstitious items carried by the soldiers which helped them to cope with the trauma of the war. Dave Jensen carried a rabbit’s foot for good luck to protect him from the
O'Brien's The Things They Carried O’Connor remarks “The Things They Carried” is a short story that is written “as an experience not an abstraction” and that “the meaning has been embodied in it”. These quotations are truly pure in description and interpretation of the short story as the reader, must look beyond the crude physical properties of the objects and actions chronicled and focus more upon their hidden meanings and messages. O’Brien uses the physical characteristics of weight to make an impact upon the reader to relate with the men. In emphasizing the soldier’s everyday burden, the reader can easily relate to the situation in general. As the story progresses, the main attention of the
The Things They Carried is a collection of stories about the Vietnam War that the author, Tim O’Brien, uses to convey his experiences and feelings about the war. The book is filled with stories about the men of Alpha Company and their lives in Vietnam and afterwards back in the United States. O’Brien captures the reader with graphic descriptions of the war that make one feel as if they were in Vietnam. The characters are unique and the reader feels sadness and compassion for them by the end of the novel. To O’Brien the novel is not only a compilation of stories, but also a release of the fears, sadness, and anger that he has felt because of the Vietnam War.
In the story The Things They Carried by Tim O’Brien shows the reader a sense of depressing love. O’Brien uses the physical weight carried by the soldiers as a motif for the emotional burdens they must endure while fighting in Vietnam. A love of which is portrayed in the story with a soldier loving a woman more than his fellow soldiers. But this woman does not love him in the same way. O’Brien uses many literary devices throughout the story, and shall be covered in this text. The tone in the text is very prevalent, and O’Brien gives the reader easy access to find and understand them.
Memories and stories swarming the mind and twisted by imagination are the only glimpse of humanity a man can hold on to while at war. Through stories, men at war can share their thinning humanity with one another. The deafening silence of war defeats the human spirit and moral compass, thus it is not only man against man but man against sanity. Tim O 'Brien 's “The Things They Carried” provides a narrative of soldiers in the Vietnam War holding on to the only parts of themselves through their imagination. O’Brien employs symbolic tokens, heavy characterization, and the grueling conflict of man to illustrate how soldiers create metaphorical stories to ease the burden of war.
Unlike most war stories, in Tim O’Brien’s “The Things They Carried” the war in Vietnam is not glorified and instead, the story is believable and raw. The horrors of war that Lieutenant Jimmy Cross and his squadron experience in an unfiltered, yet emotionally detached way that molds the structure and the language. This story, through its structure and techniques, displays the idea of how disillusionment and loss of innocence create unimaginable burdens for the American soldiers. O’Brien portrays the characters’ burdens with a monotonous and lulling tone through the use of flashbacks, setting, imagery, and metonymy.
"The Things They Carried" list the variety of things his fellow soldiers in the Alpha Company brought on their missions. Several of these things cannot be seen, including guilt and fear, while others are specific physical objects, including matches, morphine, M-16 rifles, and M&M's candy.
The Things They Carried by Tim O’Brien is a book solely about surviving war, and the stories that come along with going to a war. There are many different kinds of stories that Tim told about his experience at war. Some were sad, many were adventurous, and others made you wonder if they were even real. But with every story, there is something a certain soldier has that meant everything to them. They show a sense of comfort within every single person in this story. No matter if it is a physical object, or a spiritual value they carry with themselves at all times. They symbolize who the person is, what their life was like pre-war, and what they thrive to live for.
The Things They Carried is more than a story of physical warfare during the Vietnam War, but the battle of inner demons as well. In his novel, Tim O’ Brien takes us deep within the lives of his semi-fictional platoon in the midst of the Vietnam War in which he elaborates upon the harsh realities soldiers faced every day. O’ Brien claims, “They carried all they could bear, and then some, including a silent awe for the terrible power of the things they carried.” We see here that O’ Brien’s main purpose in writing his novel was to show the reader that the weight of the emotional toll was equivalent if not greater than the physical effects of war. The Vietnam War was an emotionally taxing experience for the soldiers, causing them to live in a false sense of reality, which tested their morals, and ultimately affected their psychological well-being.
The Things they Carried written by Tim O’Brien not only talks about the main character Tim O’Brien, but this short story also talks about all of the other soldiers in his group. When you are a soldier overseas you will most generally be carrying a lot of equipment, but you will also be carrying loads of memories and feelings and I think that was what O’Brien’s point that he was trying to get across. Numerous of these things are intangible, including responsibility and fear, while some other items are very detailed physical objects, including ponchos, AK-47s, and even some hygiene items like dental floss and hotel-sized soap. There was an endless list of items that each soldier had to carry to survive, but the metaphor here is the physical strain that each soldier has to endure. When reading this I believe that O’Brien, the author, wanted to use metaphors to help the reader feel like they were there in the story and make them feel how these soldiers felt while they were serving.
The novel, The Things They Carried is a story of one man’s accounts resulting to his tour of duty in Vietnam. Many of the men that are discussed in the book continued to be effected by the war, long after they returned home. Men were left emotionally scared, even if they managed to get out of the war physically unharmed. The
fatigue jackets, trousers, socks, flak jackets and so on. He also explains that the things
Symbolism is used throughout “The Things They Carried” by Tim O’Brien. An object O’Brien uses as a form of symbolism is the pebble. O’Brien uses the pebble to describe things as being “separate-but-together” (O’Brien 715). The pebble is a representation of Lieutenant Cross and his platoon members. While Cross is physically in Vietnam, he mentally is not there.
In “The Things They Carried” by Tim O’Brien, the author emphasizes on the items to tell the story. Lieutenant Jimmy Cross carried letters and a rock from Martha. In the war, Cross would focus on his love towards Martha to carry him out through his days and his sufferings. All the men carried something to get their minds off the war. They did not want to be cowards, so they stuck it out and moved on. They used these items to motivate them. For the letters Cross states, “They were signed Love, Martha, but Lieutenant Cross understood that love was only a way of signing…” (p.366). Martha just added to the illusion to Cross. She never mentioned the war and never said she loved him. She just kept teasing him. However, Cross just kept “humped” his