Things They Carried: A Literary Analysis

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We can all agree that war is dreadful. The impact to citizens and soldiers during times of war is significant and widespread. The fictional works: The Shawl, The Red Convertible and The Things They Carried, allow insight into the impact that war has on individuals. Although these stories are works of fiction, they all resonate real struggle and unbearable circumstances. Throughout these stories, the characters are continually impacted by their surrounding circumstances. These master works of war torn fiction, allow the reader to experience the impact war infuses on soldiers and citizens alike. Through powerful narration, these stories reveal how their characters are impacted physically, emotionally and psychologically by the war that surrounds …show more content…

Apathy is present when the main character, Tim O’Brien tells the fate of his friends throughout the narrative. O’Brien writes, “Ted Lavender, who was scared, carried tranquilizers until he was shot in the head outside the village of Than Khe in mid-April.” (O’Brien 991). Tim O’Brien describes the loss of his colleague as though he is reading a laundry list, completely apathetic to the circumstances. Fear tortures many of Tim O’Brien’s fellow soldiers in The Things They Carried. Fear cripples the soldiers and breaks the much needed focus they require to simply stay alive. O’Brien describes the soldiers fears in many ways but lists it in the inventory that they carry like any other item. O’Brien writes, “more than 20 pounds of ammunition, plus the flak jacket and helmet and rations and water and toilet paper and tranquilizers and all the rest, plus the unweighted fear.” (O’Brien 993). The guilt of surviving the war while so many perished often consumes surviving soldiers. Throughout the narrative, O’Brien recounts the demise of his fellow soldiers, amassing uncontrollable guilt to have survived, “This constant reference to his fellow soldier’s demise is the guilt and confusion he feels.” (Weatherspoon). The psychological impact the soldiers face in The Things They Carried is carefully crafted using apathy, fear and guilt to tell the despondent

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