Theme Of Truth In Tim O Brien's The Things They Carried

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Weight possesses interchangeability. It represents two opposing sides of reality’s spectrum; the literal, a heavy load or object, and the metaphoric, a mental or moral burden. In Greek mythology, the iconic story of Atlas and the weight of the world reflects this sameness. The Titan bore an unyielding physical strain along with the ever-present reminder of his moral misdoings; unquestionably, his body and psyche soon began to collapse under the stress. But behind myths, can truth not be found? In Tim O'Brien's “The Things They Carried,” war warped soldiers into unrecognizable beings defined solely by their undoings. Along with steel helmets and pocket knives, war mandated soldiers to carry the parts of themselves they wish no one to see. …show more content…

Kiowa, the platoon’s young Native American, not only carried an illustrated copy of the New Testament, but also his grandfather’s hunting hatchet. His conflicting commodities represented the distrust of his situation and perhaps his distrust in Christianity’s principles. Kiowa’s wariness proved appropriate, as his fellow soldier, Norman Bowker, pushed aside comradery. Bowker sought to save himself from foul unpleasantries, directly leading to Kiowa’s end. Ted Lavender’s death, however, stemmed from his crippling fear. Lavender carried dope, tranquilizers, and extra ammunition; the drugs acting as depressants to shut down the central nervous system and the extra ammunition acting in as a placebo for reassurment. He exuded cowardice. Ironically, Lavender’s death became unavoidable despite his precautions. He died simply, a single shot, no time for fear or panic. Moreover, soldiers carried symbols of their deplorable compulsions. Mitchell Sanders felt a need to prove himself as a man, carrying condoms and brass knuckles. Compared to other soldiers, Sanders only portrayed his hypermasculinity in objects rather than actions. Henry Dobbins’ carried the burden of superstition, his girlfriend’s panythose and a human thumb acting as “good-luck charms” (Page 111). Superstition acted as his emotional crutch, supporting his insufficient attempts to show emotion. Physical “things carried” …show more content…

Rat Kiley’s immaturity is made evident his choice of “military equipment”- comic books, brandy, and M&M’s - but his behavior as well. His treatment of the baby buffalo epitomizes his frank downfall. He did not aim to kill, just “to hurt” (Page 75). He felt a need to separate himself from the graveness of war, choosing the buffalo as his outlet for his own pain. His inability to deal with own his emotions made him headstrong and naive, wa becoming but a game. Lieutenant Jimmy Cross had a similar powerlessness over his inner feelings, fueling a constant internal war between empathy and apathy. Cross wished to treat his soldiers as humans rather than units, but felt caught by his military training. His emotional struggle with Martha resulted in similar conflict. He wanted with such fervor to act upon his love, only to be rejected by her indifference toward him. Cross eventually decided to stand by his ingrained training, making his sole purpose the war effort, abandoning his passion and intensity. He became but a shell of his former self, the balance between head and heart disregarded. Sympathy toward Kiowa’s death ignored, overridden by his need to stifle his sensitivity. Norman Bowker exhibited the most dynamic emotional disarray. Bowker carried the strife of an unrecognized man, pained by his failure to obtain the recognition he longed for and the wishes he

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