Identity In Tim O Brien's The Things They Carried

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“The Things They Carried” provides an insight into both the tangible and intangible items that soldiers carried during the Vietnam War. It further reveals how strikingly their lives as soldiers contrast with their lives before. There are several stories told over the course of this story, which each soldier’s identity. In particular, the “things” they carry represent the passions and pursuits they were forced to abandon in order to fight the war. One example of this is “Dave Jensen, who practiced field hygiene, carried a toothbrush, dental floss, and several hotel-sized bars of soap he’d stolen.” (2). This also suggests the irony behind war itself, as the average citizen might classify his things as “trivial”, when in reality they are the most…show more content…
However, the irony of war to the soldiers is further displayed when Cross ends up becoming too obsessive over Martha when “carrying” his things, and barely even acknowledges the death of one of his soldiers in Ted Lavender. He then does not come back in touch with reality until the next morning when he realizes how idiotic he has become to love his illusion more than reality. As a result, he decides to burn the things he carries in an attempt to end his obsession, but it is evident that this is ultimately a continuing conflict he will have to battle throughout the book. In this passage, I noticed how prevalently longer sentences were incorporated within the text to indicate the plethora of things the soldiers carry in common. I also repeatedly found the phrases “they carried”, and “they would” within the text, which both indicate the homogeneity among the soldiers now that their previous identities have been stripped away. The phrase “they carried” is used to reference not only the positive and reminiscent things the soldiers carry, but also the many negative aspects that the war has inflicted upon them as

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