Emotional Burdens In The Things They Carried By Tim O Brien

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In “The Thing They Carried,” Tim O’Brien describes both the physical and emotional burdens that each soldier had to carry. He describes in details and emphasizes the weight of the physical items that the soldiers had to carry. Although both the tangible and intangible weights are carried by the men, O’ Brien suggests that the intangible weights weighed more heavily on the soldiers and unlike the physical weights, they were not as easily relieved. As the weight of the physical burdens reduced, the emotional burdens of guilt, uncertainty and fear did not diminish but continued to weigh heavily on the soldiers. An analysis between the emotional and physical burdens shows that in Tim O’Brien’s “The Things They Carried,” the concrete items the men …show more content…

For instance, he explains that “the weapon weighed 7.5 pounds, 8.2 pounds with its full 20-round magazine” (O’ Brien 5). O’Brien provides a glimpse of the physical weight that the soldiers had to carry during the war. However, as Chen (77) explains, fear is an emotional weight that the soldiers have to carry. She explains that Paul’s and the narrator’s fear of exile and loss of reputation was their main motivation for going to war. “I feared the war, yes, but I also feared exile. I was afraid of walking away from…everything that mattered to me. I feared losing the respect of my parent…ridicule and censure” (O’Brien 42). The thought that he might lose respect from his parents, town and friends propelled him to go to war, and harbored it in him throughout the war. Additionally, “the soldier's greatest fear, which was the fear of blushing,” was heavy on their minds (O’Brien 21). “They were afraid of dying but they were even more afraid to show it" (O’Brien 20). The soldiers were motivated by fear to stay in the war as doing otherwise might appear cowardly and result in the loss of reputation. Although they were certain to face death, they kept going to avoid losing their …show more content…

To Martha, the pebble “seemed weightless” however, it weighed heavily on Cross (O’Brien 8). Although the physical weight of these items is insignificant, they have an enormous emotional weight on Cross. The narrator says that "Jimmy Cross humped his love for Martha up the hills and through the swamps” (O’Brien 3). Cross regularly mentions that Martha is a virgin, but this is brought into question by saying that “he was almost sure” (O’Brien 3). Kaplan (45) explains that this train of thought that characterized Cross’s thoughts about Martha showed the “uncertainties” of the war. The weight of otherwise insignificant items is illustrated by Wright (54) when she explains that Julia Gardner treasured for thirty years a tin cup that was left by a fallen soldier. The memory being represented by the cup resonated around the feelings she treasured and carried for all those

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