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Analysis of “The Things They Carried”


“The Things They Carried” is a set of co-joined ideas which tell the story of people in Alpha Company during and after the War of Vietnam. It manages the strange and questionable nature of the Vietnam War, the deficiency of truths in conveying and the separation of the War vet. “Tim O’Brien as the writer worked in Vietnam as a soldier from 1968 till 1970” (Bloom 3). This was in between his degree achievement in Political Science at Macalester College. Most of his stories are based on the War in Vietnam. “The Things They Carried” displays several life learning experiences in human beings and the reason why they carry some things.


In “The Things They Carried” by Tim O’Brien the themes of departure, clash, blame, acknowledgement and obligation are evident. The story is described in third persona and after perusing the story a reader gets to know the importance of story title. O’Brien records all the things that every soldier carries as he/she battles through war. By posting everything, O’Brien figures out how to pinpoint to an actual reader the weight every man carries physically. It is likewise critical in posting everything; O’Brien is customizing every person for a reader as well as investigating each man’s character. In informing a reader of Kiowa’s behavior of carrying a bible O’Brien is not just recommending Kiowa to be is a very religious man. He additionally shows the reader Kiowa’s preference to the scent of a Bible. This is vital as it might be conceivable that Kiowa, “by the scent of a Bible is getting away from a world of war surrounding him” (Blyn23-29).

O’Brien further investigates the thought of departure through the mails and images Cross has gotten from Martha. “During the evening, Cross could peruse Martha’s mails or gaze at the photos of her, envisioning to be by her”(Brien43).Same to Kiowa, Cross is getting away from the truth (war) he ends up in. O’Brien additionally talks about Kiley’s comics and the sedatives and drugs that Lavender walks around with. Additionally Dobbins puts on a couple of his better half’s leggings round the neck. These things are critical as they additionally recommend the theme of escape. Every man is having diverse techniques to get away from the real life around. Symbolically the pebble Cross got from Martha might likewise be vital as he carries it along with him. First it refers to an association with Martha, serving to solace him when he battles in Vietnam War. On the other hand it gets precise to Cross that dreams about Martha are implausible and in any case the pebble turns into an obstruction on Cross’ capacity to work. By discarding the rock, Cross starts taking obligations regarding the real world around him, as a pioneer and a fighter.

O’Brien does an intensive research on acknowledgement in the whole book. As Strunk is looking for the passage, after drawing the number 17, there exists a feeling that Strunk acknowledges the ball is in his court. However, he is careful of how risky the venture of searching the tunnels is. Similarly as other people are taking Kool-Aid, sitting tight for Lee, Mitchell says ‘you win some, you lose a few.’ These words are vital as it recommends the behavior to assimilate Strunk’s. Sanders acknowledge his work as an officer by searching burrows and paying little attention to how perilous it is. The most critical occurrence in the book, which shows acknowledgement, is the way that Cross acknowledges the fact of him leading to the death of Lavender by his lack of focus.

The idea of contention is additionally investigated in the book. After Lavender’s passing, Cross is burrowing his foxhole O’Brien informs a reader of Cross felt disgrace as well as hate and love. This is vital as O’Brien gives off an impression of recommending two clashing feelings inside Cross. “His adoration towards Martha and his spite for really adoring her, especially when he realizes Martha does not adore him is a mixed feeling” (Colella34-45). There comes a notion that after Lavender gets murdered Cross gets to be mindful of getting away into the dream of Martha. In this way, he seems to divert his concentration off his part as an officer and pioneer

It is likewise toward the ending of the book when O’Brien seems to further investigate acknowledgement. Realizing that people will grumble Cross is resolute that situations will have to change. Never more will he be able to daydream about Martha rather his attention will siege on current workload. Despite him understanding that things will keep on being troublesome, Cross seems to have acknowledged that as a soldier, he gets to be in charge of his people. The person reading is left mindful of the cause of Cross’ acknowledgement of his part as a pioneer was the passing of Lavender, which he feels remorseful over as well as seems to accept he is in charge of.

O’Brien emphasizes the significance of Lt. Cross’ activities by underscoring the antiquities and describes Lt. Cross as the bearer of these belonging and additionally of his adoration for Martha. O’Brien moves from utilizing the artistic strategy of depicting the soldiers’ physical relics to presenting the novel’s essential characters. It is seen that after Lavender’s passing, O’Brien creates a connection between the “reality” of Lt. Cross’ investment in war and his inside, envisioned dreams which give him shelter. In setting ablaze Martha’s letters and tolerating fault for Lavender’s demise, Cross’ clashing lines of reasoning flag the reader to be mindful when choosing what is true or false. While he broke the physical accessories and the gifts of Martha, Lt. Cross keeps on carrying the memory of her with him.

This style of helping readers associate with his characters is O’Brien’s essential target in the novel. It aims to make readers feel the story he introduces as much as is physically and candidly believable, as though it were genuine. Despite the fact that the particulars which O’Brien incorporates appears to be pointless, it should be accretive in his readers’ creative abilities. “They can then start to feel the physical weight of the war, and additionally, inevitably, the mental and passionate weights. O’Brien’s consideration regarding tangible detail likewise underpins this essential goal of inspiring a genuine reaction in the reader”(Ruff19).


It comes out clear from the story that with most people comes to learn their lessons after some event. It is also very important to access several ideas and themes in the book while trying to identify why some people carry the things they do. The points of interest he gives about items which people carry shades a light. So, specific considerations are paid by this article to these subtle things because they anticipate the main themes which contain the novel. This system of classifying the things the soldiers carry likewise aims to better the characters, and by augmentation make the characters appear to be more genuine to readers. Regardless of this passionate weight, O’Brien, as he proceeds in the accompanying section, starts to highlight the focal question of this paper: Why individuals carry the things they do.

Works Cited

Bloom, Harold. Tim O’Brien’s The Things They Carried. Philadelphia: Chelsea House, 2005. Print.

Brien, Tim. The Things They Carried: A Work of Fiction. New York: Broadway, 1998. Print.

Colella, Jill. CliffsNotes O’Brien’s The Things They Carried. Foster City, CA: IDG Worldwide, 2001. Print.

Natchez, Jon, and Sarah Robbins. The Things They Carried: Tim O’Brien. New York, NY: Spark Pub., 2003. Print.

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