The Soldier In Tim O Brien's The Things They Carried

989 Words4 Pages
When reading the first chapter of The Things They Carried, it is quickly understood that the soldiers mentioned are burdened to carry a great deal of baggage. This baggage does not only consist of guns, ammunition, protection gear, survival materials, and personal items—this baggage also includes the numerous emotions of grief, longing, guilt, shame, and fear of dying. In complete, soldiers from Vietnam were constrained to carry material baggage as well as mental baggage that varied from each individual. The outcome of this constraint seems to play a huge role in being a soldier, however, not each soldier may handle this constraint the same way. Some soldiers may drive their vehicle around aimlessly, like Norman Bowker, trying to forget the war. Others may decide the burden is too tough to carry and hang themselves, like Bowker eventually did (p.154). When the draft first started to recruit men to Vietnam, many tried to avoid the war by getting an education or…show more content…
120). Eventually, Kiowa was killed during an ambush in a field where the troops had set up. Even with the effort that Norman Bowker put forth to saving Kiowa’s life, his attempts were unsuccessful. “He pulled hard but Kiowa was gone, and then suddenly he felt himself going, too” (p.143). Once losing his best friend, Bowker permanently blamed himself for his death. This was a burden Bowker would carry for the rest of his life. Once returning from the war, the burdens carried did not lighten any. In fact, some soldiers may even say that the burdens became greater. Bowker said, “There’s no place to go. Not just in this lousy little town. In general. My life, I mean. It’s almost like I got killed over in Nam…Hard to describe. That night when Kiowa got wasted, I sort of sank down into the sewage with him” (p.
Get Access