The Things They Carried

Essay by gdumlerCollege, UndergraduateA+, July 2004

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The Things They Carried by Tim O'Brien

In the short story The Things They Carried by Tim O'Brien, the author explores human nature and the emotions that are carried with them. This emotional baggage is represented by the love that a soldier feels towards a girl back home. It is contrasted by the everyday things they carry while at war. Ultimately this story deals with the theme of growing up and taking responsibility.

One of the clever aspects of this piece is the way in which the author details the life that the soldiers are living during the time of war. We are constantly told of the things they are carrying in their fight. There are descriptions of ammunition, guns, candy, cigarettes and many other items that are used daily. We are exposed to the danger they are in and are aware of the nature of the people that are on patrol with this group of soldiers.

By creating this descriptive atmosphere the characters are developed without them having to say much at all. We are able to visualize their actions and have a sense of what type of people they are. This is important in developing one of the themes of the story. Without creating this atmosphere the reader would not have a sense of loss that the leader feels when one of his men dies.

In this story of what they carried during wartime, we are also shown the letters that one soldier is carrying. He places much importance on these letters and he looks at them as letters from the woman he loves. The fact that she might not even have the same feelings for him is carefully articulated to show the youthful infatuation he has for her. This helps show the immaturity of the leader.