Things They Carry

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The Things They Carried
Staying alive through the war wasn’t the only struggle that the soldiers of the Vietnam War faced. In the novel, The Things They Carried, by Tim O’Brien, the damages are illustrated to see the psychological strain. For some soldiers, trying to forget the unforgettable for some soldiers was more traumatizing than the war itself: Killing people, watching them die; these are all the things that the soldiers have to live with, but some just can’t live with it. The mental and physical trauma that was brought upon by the Vietnam War, still affects United States, and the stressed topic of the things the soldiers were carrying. From ponchos to the pictures of their girlfriends, everyone had different things
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“He stepped back and shot it through the right front knee...Rat took careful aim and shot off an ear. He shot in the hind quarters and in the little hump at its back. He shot it twice in the flanks. It wasn’t to kill, it was to hurt” (O’Brien 75). Not everyone felt anger, some just felt remorse. They felt that by crying their hearts out, their tears will wipe away their sorrows. They tried to let go of their pain by writing or crying, like Richard Cantale. Even though there was many symbolic statements throughout the book, the main and most stressed upon idea was the symbolism of what each man carried. In the first chapter, “The Thing They Carried”, O’Brien talks about what was in every man’s bag which consisted of everything from packets of Kool-Aid to Military Payment Certificates, which weighed from 12 to 18 pounds but these things were just the basic things all men carried. O’Brien also included personal belongings, items like a smooth pebble, photos, soap, a holy book, and things of that nature (O’Brien, page 2). O’Brien was very specific about each additional item each man brought, stressing on the weight of not only the physical item but also the weight of what the object meant to the soldier, telling little stories about each important item giving the beholder more depth of his background. Stories form items like the smoothed pebble were sad stories of how

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