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Forever In The Mind Of A Soldier

972 words - 4 pages

The boom is what starts them in, and for some, is what takes them right out. The men that fight in the Vietnam war are some of the bravest people that will ever live and they are beautifully betrayed in Tim O’Brien’s Book The Things They Carried. Tim O’Brien’s story is metafiction about his time that he spent in the war and about what it was truly like to spend time as a foot soldier in such a gruesome war. Whether they enlist or are drafted, they fight valiantly for whatever cause they are there for. These men carry their sanity and lives, and unfortunately, many of them will lose those things. O’Brien’s ultimate message about the things the men carried is that the tangible pleasures, the memories of home, and the ultimate trauma they endure will never leave them.
The men of the Vietnam War carry whatever they can, especially the things that make them feel safe. “Rat Kiley carried a canvas satchel filled with morphine and plasma and malaria tablets and surgical tape and comic books and all the things a medic must carry, including M&M’s ror especially bad wounds, for a total of nearly 18 pounds.” (5). Rat Kiley feels that one of the best ways to achieve safety is through comfort as displayed by his most important too for the worst wounds, M&M’s. Also, drugs are very prominent in making the men happy, especially Mr. Lavender who carries “dope” around with him. Marijuana, when used as a drug, is a depressant which means that it calms the men down and forget their past. Of all things, marijuana quite literally makes the men happy. Perhaps the strangest of all tangible things carried is by, “Norman Bowker, otherwise a very gentle person, carried a thumb that had been presented to him as a gift by Mitchell Sanders.”(72). Norman Bowker carries this thumb around as a reminder of the past, but also to prove how strong he is. While these items bring them immediate happiness, the thoughts of home keep them going.
We all take our homes for granted, but these men use their memories as a way to ward of mental illness. "First Lieutenant Jimmy Cross carried letters from a girl named Martha, a junior at Mount Sebastian College in New Jersey. They were not love letters, but Lieutenant Cross was hoping, so he kept them folded in plastic at the bottom of his rucksack." (1) Lieutenant Jimmy Cross uses these letters as a way to keep himself motivated. He loves Martha and has to make it home to see if she feels the same way. While some may view Lieutenant Jimmy Cross as a little extreme, Henry Dobbins takes it to the next level. “Even now, twenty years later, I can see him wrapping his...

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