The Things They Carried By Tim O ' Brien

862 Words4 Pages
In the repeated use of ideas of weight throughout his short story “The Things They Carried”, Tim O’Brien highlights its pivotal symbolism: the intense burden of fear, especially of their own mortality, experienced by the soldiers, and thus weight’s role as the most important word in the text. O’Brien accomplishes this effect through recurring references to weight in relation to Ted Lavender’s death, and his frequent use of weight and weightlessness metaphors in the dreams of Lieutenant Jimmy Cross and the other soldiers. Using the character’s ideas of weight to investigate their emotional reality, O’Brien’s explores heaviness and lightness in both physical and metaphysical connotations providing ample evidence for weight’s central symbolic purpose within the text.
The role of weight in Ted Lavender’s death, and its frequent reference by characters within the story, reinforces the weight’s relationship with fear. Lavender was said to have “dropped like so much concrete” due in part to being ‘”exceptionally burdened” when he was shot (O’Brien 472). Tim O’Brien connects the importance of the weight of the soldier’s physical gear to their emotional state by explaining “Ted Lavender, who was scared, carried 34 rounds when he was shot and killed outside Than Khe…” (472). 34 rounds were 9 more than required, and thus more than five and a half pounds of extra weight (O’Brien 472). More than the extra ammunition, Lt. Cross described that Lavender fell under the weight of “all
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