Irony In Tim O Brien's The Things They Carried

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The irony in Tim O’Brien’s The Things They Carried is crucial to understanding that the mental burden the soldiers carry are heavier than their physical burdens. Each soldier is required to carry their entire lives on their back throughout their tour in Vietnam. The soldiers carried not only weapons and the means of survival, but individual objects that are unique to them. While the individuality of the tangible objects that each soldier carried is supposed to keep them sane, it is these very objects that provides an even heavier mental burden of guilt and pain that eventually drove them to insanity.
By carrying the pebble of Martha around, Jimmy Cross creates a false hope of them being together, knowingly distracting him from his duties as …show more content…

The purpose of the drugs are to calm his nerves, but the fact that he goes to the extent of using tranquilizers multiple times a day only shows just how mentally burdened he is by the war that is constantly surrounds him. “Carrying drugs would certainly not make Ted Lavender exceptional in Vietnam, but his dependence upon the drugs makes his fear visible and that is what distances him from the others... All of them carried the common secret of cowardice barely restrained, the instinct to run or freeze or hide... Ted Lavender makes his own fear, and therefore everyone's fear, visible.” (Piedmont-Marton 8) Lavender is not the only soldier in the war, but is the only one as described by in the book, that takes tranquilizers in the platoon. By physically showing calmness in a battle zone, Lavender is only further proving just how mentally unstable he is. While the other soldiers choose to hide their fear, his drug use exposes them for what they truly are, scared. While being scared humans natural response is to run away, freeze or hide, like how Piedmont-Marton states. But Lavender does not do that, instead he charges into the war with drugs by his side. He exposes everyone else’s fear as well, to become drug addicts like him. However, the irony in Lavender’s drug use and stance that Piedmont - Marton does not take is that …show more content…

Kiowa was most pure person in the platoon and in their eyes, possibly in the entire war. He comforted them in their times of guilt and gave remorse for their sins that war forced upon them. Because Kiowa was their protective angel, the act of dying the field nicknamed “shit field” makes his death that much more aggravating. O’Brien “brought the moccasins because [he] wanted to bury part of Kiowa where he died, and he thinks if he's the one to do it, it will help assuage some of his guilt over his friend's death.” (O’Brien) O’Brien had carried Kiowa’s moccasins for years waiting for the day that he could return them to the field to hopefully settle his soul. By placing them in the same spot as the owner, O’Brien only hopes that it would relieve him of his guilt for not saving Kiowa. However, because O’Brien is not the reason for Kiowa’s death and knows that he could not save him, the placing of the moccasins will not relieve his guilt because it is not his

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