The soldiers in Tim O’Brien’s novel, The Things They Carried, were no different than any other soldiers in any other war. They carried rifles, comforters, and pictures of loved ones with them throughout the war. However, most soldiers carried emotional and mental burdens around with them too. Some of these soldiers include Lt. Jimmy Cross, Norman Bowker, and Rat Kiley. Other soldiers in the book also carried around mental and emotional burdens, but these men in particular, stuck out to me. Lieutenant Jimmy Cross is the leader of the platoon. “He carried … the responsibility for the lives of his men” (O’Brien 5). As the commander of the crew, he felt that if something happened to his men, no matter the situation, it was on him. He felt liable …show more content…
As time went on, however, he became more prominent. Bowker carried the post-war feeling of an unimportant life. “…Bowker described the problem of finding a meaningful use for his life after the war” (O’Brien 149). He just felt that nothing he did were at the stakes of the war. He asked O’Brien to write a story about the night in the field because Norman himself could not find the words to say. Bowker felt that he would finally do something meaningful. However, when O’Brien sent him the story, it wasn’t his story at all. O’Brien had left out Vietnam, Kiowa, and the field. Eight months later Bowker hanged himself. This was a very powerful part of the book. It really shows the hardships and burdens of Norman’s postwar …show more content…
When the unit took a precaution and only traveled at night, the darkness hit Kiley hard. All of the men carried around the burden of panic and fear of falling behind the troop, however, Rat Kiley couldn’t handle it. He began talking about big mutant bugs calling out his name at night. “Constantly scratching himself. Clawing at the bug bites. He couldn’t quit digging at his skin, making big scabs and then ripping off the scabs and scratching the open sores” (O’Brien 210). This mental burden was starting to eat him alive. Also, he was carrying around, day and night, the mental burden of seeing his body parts in dreams. He would imagine his own heart and kidneys. He imagined himself dead. The burden became too unbearable for him and so he doped himself up and shot himself in the foot in order to go home. This is a very gory but important part of the book. It shows just how hard the burden of darkness and depression can affect someone like Rat
Madness lies deep in everybody's subconscious; it's like an animal stalking it's pray waiting for the right moment and strikes when it is least expected. Insanity isn't something you will notice instantly, it grows and flourishes slowly and for a lot of people it will haunt them for the rest of their life. Many soldiers and veterans are tormented and will have to simply live with their now disturbed and demented psyche. In Tim O'Brien's The Things They Carried he portrays the soldiers of all having their different quarrels with insanity because, it is a way that they comprehend what they have done in the battlefield. The characters that best display madness are Jimmy Cross, Mitchell Sanders, and then Norman Bowker.
It’s hard to write a true war story because some of the things that happen people won’t believe or are even unimaginable. So O’Brien makes his stories related to his real war story. In his mind, he changes his actual war stories into the ones in the book, so it is a good story. If he had talked about his entire time in Vietnam it would be nowhere near as interesting. He made the book
No matter how much weapons they could carry. The soldiers knew the risk of their lives being taken. Death could come right before their very eyes. Especially being in those soldier’s shoes, their life was at stake. As the story is being focused on Lt. Jimmy Cross, O’Brien talks about a character then suddenly a character dies.
The Soldier’s Fears First, in Tim O’Brien’s “The Things They Carried,” the tangible items carried by the soldiers reveal their fears of losing a connection to home, fear of the unknown, fear of reality. Holding onto their precious items from home helped them hold onto reality. Second, “the soldiers all had fears of the war and they all carried with them certain items that gave them the comforts of home.” (366). “First Lieutenant Jimmy Cross carried letters from a girl named Martha” (366) he loved her and this was a way of keeping her close, “Henry Dobbins carried his girlfriend’s pantyhose and wrapped them around his neck as a comforter” (372) he must have felt wearing his girlfriend’s pantyhose connected her to him, “Kiowa carried an illustrated New Testament and an old hunting hatchet from his grandfather” (367) his grandfather must
One often recalls the pounds and pounds of gear soldiers in war must carry: rifle, knife, helmet, body armor, grenades, and many more. In The Things They Carried, Tim O’Brien begins the novel with a detailed description of the physical gear soldiers carried in Vietnam; with each listed item, the total weight of a soldier’s equipment slowly grew into a massive number. One would assume the equipment would prove to be a soldier’s largest burden in the battlefield. Although the soldiers in Vietnam certainly carry backbreaking amounts of equipment, their emotional and psychological burdens far outweigh their physical gear. “Grief, terror, love, longing - these were intangibles, but the intangibles had their own mass and specific gravity, they had
Lieutenant Jimmy Cross carried a map and compass, which symbolized his responsibility of leading his men. Cross also brought the desire for love and a normal life, wherever he went, in the form of letters and pictures from a girl named Martha. The letters were his way of escape from the pressure of leading his battalion. The heaviest baggage Cross carried, though, was grief. When Ted Lavender was shot and killed, Cross had been day-dreaming of Martha, instead on the lookout for danger.
In the chapter “Speaking of Courage”, Bowker tries to symbolize his loss of Kiowa with the loss of Silver Star, wanting to ease his guilt by reducing the value of what is gone. Later in the chapter, there is the description of Bowker getting in the lake (148). Three chapters later, Tim O’Brien the narrator does the same thing in Vietnam, swimming in the field. Additionally, in the chapter “In The Field”, a “boy”, whom the audience supposes to be O’Brien, tries to symbolize his guilt over Kiowa with the loss of the picture of his girlfriend. Leaving the reader with the depiction of the same event and feelings with different characters and settings, altering the truths, O’Brien manipulates the structure and conventional expectations of the
Either it being self defense, economic gain or for a political movement, War is influenced by many factors that lead to catastrophic results. Both the Gulf and Vietnam wars are explained by the article, “Military Multiculturalism in the Gulf War and After” and short story “The Things They Carried” that signify the blind eye displayed by humans during these wars. What allows Humans to process traumatic events is to turn the other way around and fill their minds with joyful moments in their life. A couple of ways are displayed in both the short story and article are the soldiers letting their mind escape and thinking about the things they brought with them from home and the public accepting the medias filtered perspective of war by supporting
Norman is unable to find words to describe his struggles and therefore can’t move on from the war. This just shows that the horrors don’t stop, even after the war. Norman is desperately grasping for a way to understand everything but he is unable to. Because of this, Norman, unlike Roy, is unable to cope and eventually takes his own life to escape his own mind. Additionally, Tim O’Brien himself has been greatly afflicted by the psychological aspect of war.
Norman had felt as if he had no one to talk to or relate to because no one around him had experienced war like he had. He tried to keep jobs when he was home from war, but not one of them had lasted more than 3 weeks. Since he feels he is unable to speak to anyone about war, he writes a letter to O’Brien, telling his entire war story. He soon feels as if he cannot do anything without thinking about war and hangs himself in the locker room of his town’s YMCA.
One aspect of returning home that was conveyed by this story was doing actions that earned medals. Norman talks of how he almost got more medals and was had the courage to try and rescue Kiowa’s body but couldn’t do it while under artillery fire. This wasn’t a case of whether he could or couldn’t summon a supply of courage to support his country but just the pure reactions someone
“It was very sad, he thought… The things men did or felt they had to do” (O’Brien 480). In “The Things They Carried”, Tim O’Brien (a Vietnam War veteran) details the experience of soldiers during the Vietnam War. As implied in the title, the story describes the many things soldiers carried physically. In addition, O’Brien shares the many thoughts and burdens the soldiers carried mentally during their time on the battlefield in Vietnam.
How he can 't wait to see my goddamn medals. " During this conversation he is getting frustrated that medals is all that is expected of him. Before this went on and on about how important it was to earn medals, but this statement he made shows he only thought it was important because he sought approval from his father. In the end Bowker committed suicide because he felt that he had no purpose, and his life was a waste. The medals didn’t matter to him after the war, they didn’t give him purpose and they didn’t save him.
In The Things They Carried, Tim O’Brien depicts a story of people who are riddled with guilt about the people around them dying. Rat, Bowker, and O’Brien handled their guilt in different ways. Rat acts in a violent way, Bowker treats the deaths as if they aren’t humans and they are just objects that he lost, and O’Brien handles it by making sure people get their stories out there, and they are “true war stories”. “How to Tell a True War Story” talks about Rat and how his best friend died. Rat is only 19 years old, so he’s young, and he has to go through this tragic incident.
Lieutenant Cross' “Jimmy Cross” name is a symbol of sacrifices for others. O'Brien's characters carry both passionate and physical burdens. while they all carry substantial physical burdens, they likewise all carry overwhelming passionate burdens, made out of grief,terror,love, and aching. Every soldier’s physical burden underscores their passionate burden. Henry Dobbins, for example, carries his girlfriend’s pantyhose and, with them, the longing for love and comfort.