The Things They Carried Rhetorical Analysis

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Writing Prompt 1 What does it feel like to carry the weight of a nation at the same time as being a teenager? In the novel “The Things They Carried”, Tim O’Brien explores the nature of the Vietnam War and the children who were sent there to fight the war. In the opening chapter of the novel, O’Brien makes it clear of the effect the war has had on his fellow soldiers and himself by the repeated usage of the word “carried”. This term defines the rest of the novel by establishing connections between the soldiers and their lives back home. The term carry can be defined as emotional and physical, a person can carry burdens of death just as much as they can carry forty pounds of armor. The first object that O’Brien introduces as being carried is …show more content…

“The letters weighed 4 ounces.” The letters did not weigh much but they had a strong emotional hold on Cross. They were not love letters but Cross kept them close to him as if they were. They kept him home, back in New Hampshire, with the love of his life that never was. The emotional connection with these letters kept him going through the war; they only weighed four ounces but they engulfed Cross with every ounce. They distracted him in times when he needed to be most vigilant, and he thought about them as one of his men died. He carried the weight of the letters and of the girl he loved but did not love him back and now he carried the weight of Ted Lavender. The word carried is used at the end of the passage to mark the end of Cross’ infatuation with Martha, “It was very sad, he thought. The things men carried inside.” Cross was carrying the emotional weight of love but it was love that he could not have. It did not matter that Martha did not love him back because he could not have that love either way. As O’Brien says a little further in the chapter, “Lieutenant Jimmy Cross reminded himself that his obligation was not to be loved but to lead.” The term carried is not only associated with physical and emotional in the story of …show more content…

The physical being fairly obvious; he lists weights of items that the soldiers carried. However these weights and items do serve of a purpose, as O’Brien lists all the items continuously, the reader begins to become out of breath and feel the weight that these items have on the soldiers. The reader is sharing this connection with the soldiers by carrying the weight of the words. The term carries, is the portal in which the reader can feel what the soldier is feeling, the exhaustion of it all. The emotional sense of the word carried is used often to display the effect the war was having on these soldiers. In the middle of listing what peculiar items the soldiers carried O’Brien says, “They all carried ghosts.” The ghosts can be anyone, they can be people back home or they can be people who have been killed. However these ghosts have a weight on the soldiers, they creep into their thoughts late at night, haunting them. Their lives back at home stay in their thoughts, the dream of going back, or the dread because they might not be able to live the same way after experiencing this gruesome war. The dead, either their friends or their enemies, haunt them because they have died in this war for an unknown reason. Later O’Brien also says, “They carried the sky. The whole atmosphere they carried it.” This sentence makes the weight sound unbearable however it draws the

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