Essay On Symbolism In The Things They Carried

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Things They Carried Analysis draft
In the short story “The Things They Carried,” Tim O’brien uses the literary element of symbolism to portray how people carry different items to represent certain things, and to represent the harsh realities of war and life. He also uses symbolism to show how people become attached to items, and how they take on deeper meanings in times of stress. The story takes place during the Vietnam war, and O’Brien talks about an army detail, and the different things that they carried. This story is a great example of the use of symbolism to represent many different things at once.
In this short story, O’brien has multiple characters who are all part of the same army detail. He goes into detail explaining the different items of each character. For example, the main character, Lieutenant Jimmy Cross, carried letters and photos from Martha, a girl from his home town whom he was in love with. However, Martha doesn’t seem to return the love. Therefore, not only does this picture represent a part of his home, and something that he misses, but it represents a weakness and a yearning for something he doesn’t have. O’brien says, “They were not love letters,
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O’brien portrays this idea in his short story when he says, “The things they carried were determined to some extent by superstition. Lieutenant Cross carried his good-luck pebble. Dave Jensen carried a rabbit’s foot” (pg. 9). Throughout the story, the men are faced with different adversities, and at each turn it ends back up with O’brien talking about their different items. O’brien does this because it is a universal truth that people carry things with them that they feel can help them in times of trouble. Due to this, the story has a fairly light mood even as it talks about very grim subjects such as people dying or cutting off
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