Soldiers In The Things They Carried By Tim O Brien

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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

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