Themes Within "The Things They Carried" by Tim O'Brien

Essay by lilnellybooHigh School, 10th grade March 2007

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Tim O'Brien, author and veteran, covers several multiple in his novel The Things They Carried. The book bases itself on the psychological strain caused by the stress and conflicting interests in the war. O'Brien wants us to see what he's afraid to look back at. Story truth is his way of facing the confronting the past and admitting his responsibility in it. O'Brien tells his stories from a constant gush of memories. Emotions and morals are among the more evident themes covered in the novel. Pain, embarrassment, love, hate, loneliness, frustration, isolation, bravery, and struggles with morality. All of these, and combinations of these are religiously covered in the book. Though people not involved in a war could never even begin to understand, not even an ounce of what happened; O'Brien uses these themes and emotions to help describe the crude and passionate feelings that the veterans felt throughout the war.

Pain is one of the better know feelings about Vietnam. It still affects many Vietnam War veterans in many forms. Even though the war ended over 25 years ago, O'Brien shows that the trauma associated with the war has had mental and physical effects on the soldiers since the war has passed. Because of this pain, it only makes sense that O'Brien illustrates and reflects on the pains he and others felt during the war. Pain is caused by so many of the emotions used in this book, that it becomes difficult not to realize its' significance in the book. The guilt caused by killing a man, even though he would have killed you. The mental torment felt when watching your comrade being scraped off of a tree. "They were just goofing. There was a noise, I suppose, which must've been the detonator, so I glanced behind...