The Nine-Year-Old He Carried: Linda's role in Tim O'Brien's They Things They Carried.

Essay by radiator25High School, 11th gradeA+, December 2002

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Tim O'Brien's novel, The Things They Carried creates an accurate picture of the emotions experienced by soldiers like himself in the Vietnam War. Though the reader learns that the majority of the story is fictional, the overall message is powerful. To achieve this, O'Brien uses a mix of narratives, personal accounts, and what would seem like unrelated incidents. Sections include stories of "Love", "Speaking of Courage", and "Night Life". These may seem like absurd titles for chapters in a book about a war, but all the stories relate to some aspect of the experience. However, the last short story of the novel, entitled "Lives of the Dead" is about a nine-year-old girl named Linda that Tim O'Brien knew when he was in fourth grade. He loved Linda, but unfortunately, she died of a brain tumor. Many don't understand why the author included this section in the book. Linda died long before the conflict in Vietnam.

What could a little girl possibly know about war? Linda was put in this book for specific reasons; those of which further exhibit O'Brien's superb story telling abilities.

Although Linda seems to be completely unrelated to the things the soldiers in Vietnam are experiencing, she is very similar to them. Like the members of the Alpha Company, she is very young. She is only nine-years-old and has to deal with a medical condition that would be difficult for grown adults to deal with. She is naive, inexperienced, and unsure of her situation. Similarly, the soldiers are also quite young, most of them in their early twenties. The soldiers don't understand why they have to leave their homes and fight for no immediate cause.

Linda and the narrator, Tim O'Brien share many traits as well. They are both brave in their own circumstances. Linda loses...