The Things They Carried “The Things They Carried” by Tim O’Brien is a short story set during the Vietnam War. In the story, O’Brien lists many different items soldiers in the Alpha Company carried with them as they humped across the rugged terrain. Many carried necessities such as rations, matches, ammunition and things of that nature; however, many soldiers also carried quite peculiar objects such as condoms, pantyhose, and M&Ms. Readers can grasp a closer insight of the characters’ lives after further examination of the symbolism and meaning of the things they carried.
Tim O'Brien short story "The Things They Carried" is about a unit in the Vietnam War. One of the soldiers “Ted Lavender, a "Grunt" gets shot by a sniper when in route to the restroom. Meanwhile, his superior by the name of, Lieutenant Jimmy Cross points the finger at himself for the catastrophe. One of O'Brien's themes is that emotional problems on soldiers can be heavier than physical problems. Symbolically, the things the soldiers carry represented who they were.
Towards the beginning of the novel, items that the men carried were discussed, Tim O’Brien writes, “Almost everyone humped photographs. In his wallet Lieutenant Cross carried 2 photographs of Martha” (O’Brien 5). While the lieutenant wants to get out of the war, the only way he can feel comfort is through the pictures he carries with him. Furthermore, Jimmy Cross loves Marth so much he wanted to be with her every second of the day, “... he was thinking of Martha. The stresses and fractures, the quick collapse, the two of them buried alive under all that weight.
The Things They Carried by Tim O’Brien is a collection of short stories about the Vietnam war. The title's significance refers to both the emotional and physical baggage that the characters in the stories carry. Although the soldiers carry heavy physical baggage, they also carry the heavy emotional loads of the war, such as shame, guilt and escapism. In the first chapter, the author catalogs physical items like weapons, water, and medical gear.
His mind was always in New Jersey, next to Martha. Before he came to war, Cross touched Martha’s knee in the cinema. “And during the final scene, when he touched her knee, she turned and looked at him in a sad, sober way that made him pull his hand back, but he would always remember the feel of
In “The Things They Carried” the audience pity Jimmy Cross because he is at war and because he is in love with Martha, but knows that she does not feel the same. Readers also pity him because he is the leader and he realizes that he has to stop his dreaming. In the line “It was very sad, he thought. The things men carried inside. The things men did or felt they had to do,” Cross knows that he has to change his character if he is going to survive the war.
O’Brien only reveals Cross’ feelings and thoughts rather than everybody else’s, so the focus on Martha is magnified. Readers are presented in his mind, and his actions show his obsession with her gets in the way of his duties as a Lieutenant. While readers are taken in his mind in The Things They Carried, they assume soldiers’ feelings through dialogue in The Open Boat. In a conversation, the oiler responds to his captain’s question by saying “A little more south, sir” (Crane 2). The dialogue
At first he tries to maintain his innocence. He does this by spending every spare moment wandering mentally along beaches with a girl back home, Martha. He read all of her letters, wondered about her frequently, and even kept a stone from the beach in his mouth to savor the taste of the ocean and imagine he was with her. However, as established by the following quote, "On the morning after Ted Lavender died, First Lieutenant Jimmy Cross crouched at the bottom of his foxhole and burned Martha’s letters,” this desperate sliver of innocence was lost when he forced himself to forget her, thus allowing himself to be entirely immersed in the reality of war. The loss of life caused by the war greatly corresponds to the underlying theme of the destruction of innocence.
Tim O’Brien states, “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” (O’Brien 16). In this quote, Tim O’Brien explains that since Jimmy Cross blames himself about Ted Lavender’s death, he will always be in lieutenant’s head. Thus, the lieutenant will always feel the guilt. With this, Tim O’Brien makes the reader think that Jimmy Cross is the person to blame since he is the head of the group and he has to pay more attention to his plans. Having questions about his love, Martha, in his mind instead of being careful about his men is the reason of him feeling guilty that “the lieutenant’s in some deep hurt” (17).
Imagine being drafted to move thousands of miles away from the life you love to fight a war you hated. This is the unfortunate reality for Tim O’Brien In The Things They Carried. O’Brien explains his experiences of war in Vietnam, what it took to get him there, and his relationships with the other men in his platoon. He portrays guilt and pride through storytelling and intertwines the two by showing how the men often feel guilty for the actions they pursue or decisions they make based on their pride.
presents various symbols that connect to characters and themes. Similarly, so does the metafiction story of Tim O’Brien’s “The Things They Carried.” Actually, without symbolism in these two stories, the meaning of the story would be lost to the reader.
The Things They Carried, written by Tim O’Brien, illustrates the experiences of a man and his comrades throughout the war in Vietnam. Tim O’Brien actually served in the war, so he had a phenomenal background when it came to telling the true story about the war. In his novel, Tim O’Brien uses imagery to portray every necessary detail about the war and provide the reader with a true depiction of the war in Vietnam.
The theme of friendship is shown in many chapters of “The Things They Carried” by Tim O’Brien, in the chapter “Love,” friendship is shown through Jimmy Cross coming to visit Tim in Massachusetts. They drank and smoked for a whole day and caught up with things. “For a full day we drank and smoked cigarettes together and talked about everything we had seen and done so long ago,” (O’Brien, 26). This quote shows how good of friends they had become during the war and after because if not Jimmy wouldn 't go to Massachusetts.
Martha does not love him as he loves her, and he will never be able to have her. He quite literally tastes what he cannot have when he keeps the stone in his mouth and day dreams of her. The pebble is very light, but the intangible weight attached to it is enormous and Jimmy will keep this weight with him forever. Later on in the story he will day dream of Martha and it will lead to the loss of Ted Lavender: “He was just a kid a war, in love. He was twenty-two years old.