The Things They Carried By Tim O Brien: A Psychological Analysis

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Death and destruction caused by war can become permanently embedded in the minds of those who actively participated in combat long after the conflict has officially come to an end. Their memories, decisions, and personality can be influenced by what they experienced while serving in combat. The burdens that were placed upon them by horrible circumstances have the ability to become a permanent fixture, never leaving a person for as long as they exist. Tim O’Brien explores the origin of these burdens throughout one of his most famous works. Through a psychological analysis, it can be determined that O’Brien’s “The Things They Carried” connects the temporary physical burdens with the permanent emotional burdens experienced by soldiers during …show more content…

Josh Hochgesang, a student at Stanford University, discusses the topic of uncertainty in war in “The Psychological Effects of the Vietnam War” when he states that “due to a lack of a strong moral and political avocation for the war…it was difficult for the soldier to control and predict the events occurring around him” (Hochgesang). The inability to control circumstances caused many soldiers to begin questioning everything that occurred to them in combat. Steven Kaplan’s “Undying Uncertainty” addresses the notion that the uncertainty of war, specifically the Vietnam War, caused many soldiers to only focus on survival. He states that, in “The Things They Carried”, O’Brien “introduces the reader to some of the things, both imaginary and concrete, emotional and physical, that the average foot soldier had to carry through the jungles of Vietnam” (Kaplan 579). O’Brien’s incorporation of both concrete and figurative details in his work emphasize the general feeling of soldiers who served in …show more content…

The narrator describes the soldiers under Cross’s command as tough, and further states, “They carried all the emotional baggage of men who might die. Grief, terror, love, longing-these were intangibles, but the intangibles had their own mass and specific gravity, they had tangible weight” (O’Brien 574-75). The narrator recognizes that emotions and other intangible things can burden a soldier mentally just as field equipment can burden a soldier physically. Furthermore, the narrator emphasizes that, while these burdens were evident, soldiers did not allow them to hinder their ability to fight to keep each other alive, stating “despite their unknowns, they made their legs move…they did not submit to the obvious alternative, which was simply to close [their] eyes and fall” (O’Brien 575). Just as with any physical burden, these soldiers did not let emotions take the better of them, but continued to move forward, fighting for the lives of the men beside

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