The Things They Carried By Tim O Brien: Literary Analysis

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“The Things They Carried” by Tim O’Brien is a short story about a group of soldiers at war. Each soldier has either a physical or emotional “thing” that they carry with them to remember people or memories. One of the soldiers, Ted Lavender, is shot in the head while going to the bathroom and Lieutenant Cross takes the blame for his death. This burden of Lavender’s death is carried with Cross throughout the story. Lieutenant Cross continues to do his best throughout the rest of the war in memory of Ted Lavender. A short stories plot has a major effect on the theme. Themes of the stories affect not only the writer but also the readers in modern day. Within in the short story, “The Things They Carried,” readers can connect to the author by understanding …show more content…

Everyone has a burden that they carry. The soldiers in this story carry both physical loads and emotional loads. Examples from the short story of physical loads are “can openers, pocket knives, canteens, candy, clothes, matches, etc.” (O'Brien). Depending on the soldiers weight and habits justifies how heavy their load was. Henry Dobbins, a bigger and heavier soldier in the story, carries with him extra rations of food such as “canned peaches in heavy syrup over pound cake” (O'Brien). A soldier’s load expresses how they are defined at war. An example an emotional burden defining a soldier is when Lieutenant Cross talks about how even though he receives letters from Martha that are signed “Love, Martha”, he understand ““Love” was only a way of signing and did not mean what he sometimes wanted it to meant” (O'Brien). This example defines Lieutenant Cross as hopeful and in love because he hopes and fears that Martha does not feel the same about him while at war. People can connect to this theme of burdens today. The burden can be small and physical like a picture of a love one that is off at war or in a different location. Burdens today can also be large and emotional such as the death of a loved one. Being able to connect to a short story like “The Things They Carried” can give someone with burdens or memories weighing them down, a sign of …show more content…

In the story Lieutenant Cross carries the death of Ted Lavender not only as a burden but also as motivation (O'Brien). Moments before Ted Lavender was shot, Lieutenant Cross was thinking heavily about Martha and how much he wanted her to be a virgin (O'Brien). After Lavenders death, Lieutenant Cross tried to keep calm. It says in the story that Lieutenant Cross “with his entrenching tool, which weighed five pounds, he began digging a hole in the earth” (O’Brien). This shows that Lieutenant Cross cared deeply about Ted Lavender and Martha, and he will continue to fight for those he truly did care about most in life. He continues to fight not only for his country but because he doesn’t want family or friends to judge him for giving up. Fear plays a major role in this theme. Readers today can connect to this story because no one enjoys failing, especially in front of others. Soldiers fighting today fear for their lives everyday but continue to fight as motivation to keep their country and the ones they love safe. This short story allows readers to think about how fear and shame can motivate not only soldiers in war but everyday

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