Things They Carried: A Character Analysis

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In The Things They Carried, a collection of stories written by Tom O’Brien, the narrator is attempting to handle the death of his beloved girlfriend. When the narrator was nine-years-old, he fell in love with Linda; Their relation was true love. They did not even have to communicate with each other, just a mere glance could express their emotions and proclaim their love. However, their love was short lived since Linda died only a few months are their love began. Linda always wore a rep cap on her head, which later, to everyone 's surprise, cover her bare, bandaged head. Her bare head and stitches were the results of brain tumor, which ultimately killed her in September of 1956. The death of a loved one at such a young, vulnerable age led to…show more content…
The news of Linda’s death was delivered by Nick Veenhof when he said:” your girlfriend,... she kicked the bucket”(224). At first, the narrator could not understand what Nick was trying to tell him, that she was dead. But as time passed the realization that she was forever gone hit him. In order to process the situation, he imaged a situation where Linda would appear in dreams and speak to him about death. When he reflected on the death of Linda, the narrator discovered that transforming people in objects make their deaths easier. “I learned that words make a difference. It’s easier to cope with a kicked bucket than a corpse; if it isn’t human, it doesn’t matter much if it’s dead”(226). The action of making Linda an inanimate object allowed the narrator to better deal with death. He was only nine and did not have the emotional maturity to be able to fully understand what her death truly meant. The idea of “If it isn’t human” is an act of dehumanizing Linda to a bucket, which translated into the narrator being able to handle the loss of the love of his life. He never truly got over the death of Linda, but at the time, Linda no longer being thought of as human made her death less real and that “it doesn’t matter much”. The narrator carried this coping mechanism to Vietnam. When Curt Lemon died he altered the body into “one small bit of waste” (226). The grief he felt for all the men who died in Vietnam and Linda was decreased by reconstructing them into dreams, stories or just objects, which allows them to be alive
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