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An Inside Look At A Soldier's Life In The Vietnam War

1296 words - 5 pages

The emotional stress that most soldiers carry with them during times of war is due to their inexperience and age. The majority of men who fought in the Vietnam war ranged from ages early as eighteen to their early twenties. Among these men, were sons, spouses, friends, boyfriends, and students, who could not understand the thought of war, killing, or contend with their friends’ unexpected deaths. From the beginning of the story, O’Brien the author of “The Things They Carried” uses specific details and illustrations to show readers what the experience was like for the men during the Vietnam war. Among the many things that the men carry were guilt, fear, grief, and stress. Throughout the story O’Brien emphasizes the dreadful events that these men carry with them by incorporating the use of multiple themes such as: the emotional and physical burdens, fear, psychological well being and the use of motifs and symbols such as death in handling difficult situations.
Tim O’Brien, who is the author and the narrator describes the “things” that all the men of the platoon bear and carry. In the title The Things They Carried, the word “things” symbolizes what each men carried with them throughout the war both literally and figuratively. Although many of the soldiers carry physical objects, they also all carry emotional objects as well such as fear, terror, love, death, and longing. Throughout the story each character’s physical burden emphasizes their emotional burden. The many different “things” each person carried also depended on many other factors as well, including their personal needs, desire, and emotional well-being. O’Brien illustrates the physical things that each men carried by describing and detailing each object to create a mental image of what a person would see, without having to be there in the midst of the war. For example, because Henry Dobbins was the biggest soldier out of his platoon he was able to carry extra rations such as food, and supplies. While others such as Ted Lavender carried personal items like marijuana and tranquilizers to relax and calm himself down. While others carried a bible like Kiowa , who received the new testament as a gift from his father. Some of the physical things the men carried were standard government issue, like a compress in case of emergencies such as fatal injuries and a poncho that can be used as a raincoat, groundsheet, or possibly a tent. Almost all the men carry a standard military issue M-16 assault rifle and several rounds of ammunition. While others carry grenade launchers, a pistol, bombs, explosive devices, bug spray, pocket knives, tobacco, cigarettes, can openers and gum. By listing these objects O’ Brien symbolizes the physical burdens the men carry. Despite the physical burdens, O’Brien also illustrates the emotional burdens or stress that each soldier undergoes while in combat. For example, in the story Henry Dobbins carries his girlfriend’s pantyhose with him throughout the war which...

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