The Things They Carried Symbolism Analysis

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Emotional baggage is something 43% of adult people struggle with in their lifetime, according to a study done by Dr. Jonathan Maythorn, author of Life Leader. Lieutenant Jimmy Cross, in Tim O’Brien’s short story, The Things They Carried, is no exception. Suffering from emotional baggage, regarding his past, on the battlefield is hindering his ability to function correctly, as one man should in a war. In other words, setting and symbolism in this short story shows that when the past is brought into the future, it can only drag people down.

The story occurs in Vietnam during the bloody Vietnam War. When questioning where in Vietnam specifically the story takes place, O’Brien writes “Than Kai, area south of Chu Lai” (O’Brien 3). That quote shows that
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The author, Tim O’Brien, says, “the things they carried were largely determined by necessity”(O’ Brien 1), which can vary from soldier to soldier because, each person can deem what is necessary to them. Besides the regulation items each soldier had on their person; helmet, gun, food, etc., they also had whatever they believed would help them out on their mission. In the same fashion, the very same elements they carry, or hump, with them leads to a sense of dependence upon each other. “Each man depends on the other to share the load. But they are also defined as men, differentiated from the group because of the things they carry”(Piedmont-Marton 326) , Piedmont-Marton states showing that even though they have the same few items that are the same among them, it can also separate them. Many soldiers carry mementos from both their home and past but, it can be inferred that none of the men are completely engulfed in the memories they bring, unlike their lieutenant. These examples of symbolism help accentuate the primary
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