Burdens In Tim O Brien's The Things They Carried

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Tim O’Brien short story The Things They Carried embodies the conflict, emotions and burdens soldiers carry in the time of war. O’Brien uses list to describe items soldiers carry and how those items, whether military items or personal items, influences physical strengthen, weak-ness, emotions and symbolic attributes. Tim O’Brien’s character’s carry “Things” that are both literal and fugitive in nature. Each soldier carries or “hump” O’Brien (1990) heavy physical military items. Lt. Jimmy Cross carries “A compass, maps, code book, binoculars, .45 caliber pistol, a strobe light and the re-sponsibility of his men…” (O’Brien, 1990) The soldiers in Alpha platoon have the physical burden in carrying the weapons and supplies that will provide then substance, safety and shelter during their time in Vietnam. The soldiers not only carry a physical load, they carry a heavy emotional load, composed of fear, isolation, loneliness, grief, love and longing. Each soldiers physical burden in underscored by his emotional burden. For example, Henry Dobbins,…show more content…
The soldiers carried military gear symbolic to the fear they carry with them in battle. Ted Lavender carried extra ammunition due to fear. The personal items the sol-diers carried are also precious and symbolic. Carrying their desires, homesickness, and love. Henry Dobbins carried his girlfriend’s pantyhose for comfort. “They all carried ghost…” O’Brien (1990) Lt. Cross carried his ghost in the form of pictures and letter of Martha, as well as a pebble for luck. This was symbolic for his love for her, which changed during a mission, when Lt. Cross was fantasying about Martha at the time of Lavender’s death. The symbolic meaning of these items changed for Lt. Cross. He blamed himself on Lavender’s death. The items he found comfort in, now became a tragic reminder of death and his lack of focus and responsibility for his
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