Symbols In The Things They Carried By Tim O Brien

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In Tim O'Brien's The Things They Carried, he tells the story through narrative perspective, character development, setting, and symbolic elements. By using both first-person and third-person narratives, O'Brien provides multiple sides of the Vietnam War experience. Each story has a protagonist facing a different conflict, contributing to a number of individual struggles. The settings serve by shaping the individual stories and the experiences of the characters. Recurring characters, places, and objects emerge as symbols, having many different meanings. Through these individual stories, he creates one unified story. With all of these, he is telling the impact of the Vietnam War. The significance of Tim O’Brien telling the story of The Things …show more content…

These recurring characters, places, and objects all help to serve us to understand what the soldiers are going through. The first symbol, Ted Lavender, symbolizes morality, loss, and the psychological toll of war. His character and death are brought up in multiple chapters such as “The Things They Carried”, “Love”, “Night Life”, and “The Lives of the Dead” where it is shown the emotional lasting effect that his death has had on the soldiers. In the story “The Things They Carried” shows that death affects the soldiers, “He felt shame. He hated himself. He had loved Martha more than his men, and as a consequence, Lavender was now dead, and this was something he would have to carry like a stone in his stomach for the rest of the war.” This is showing how he takes the blame for it and is going to have to have that regret for the rest of his life. The next symbol is the setting of the Vietnam War. This represents the soldier's experiences and fears, it also symbolizes a hostile and unfamiliar environment. This is where all of the soldiers' hardships are happening at. The last symbol is the pebble carried by Lieutenant Jimmy Cross this symbolizes the love that he has for Martha. In the story “The Things They Carried” his pebble represents his love for Martha and good luck due to her picking out the pebble for him and sending it to him. Later in the chapter “Love” he thinks about getting rid of the pebble when he was burning the pictures of Martha after Lavender’s death but he is not able to get rid of it just like his love for Martha. The pebble shows his attachment to Martha and how he always has it with him and isn’t able to get rid of it. These recurring characters, places, and objects all help to serve us to understand what the soldiers are going through throughout the

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