The Study of “Things They Carried” by Tim O’Brien
George Carlin, during the early 80’s, had a routine that was a witticism on the importance of having "personal effects". These “personal effects” or items that a person accumulates through life symbolize their identity. The impractical things carried in pockets, purses, bags and suitcases that make people feel "as themselves" while in strange surroundings. These things are so essential to identify the person these “personal effects” represents. If asked how to identify someone it would take on a completely different meaning. Name, social security number and birth dates are the items mostly associated with someone’s Identity. This phenomenon can be oppressed by the replacement of possessions by removing the things that make a person feel complete and replacing them with items that represent a new identity. Tim O’Brien’s story entitled “The Things We Carried” illustrates how people carry objects that represent their identity. Some objects are tangible like weapons and items for personal protections and other are intangible like fear and guilt. No matter how or what these objects are they hold the key to one’s identity. This story gives us an introspect of an unfamiliar person’s identity is through physical characteristic, mannerisms, or the objects that used for personal reassurance.
The physical characteristics of an identity is a role played by each individual expressed with new customs and a different lifestyle based on self-decisions. As stated, “The selves would take on different identities. So the identity is not a set, concrete entity, on the contrary, it is very flexible and it can change according to its environment, context, and expectations from the counterpart, whether it may be the society, a group, or other identities just like itself.” (Cinoğlu, Hüseyin) People tend to create different characters depending on the situations they are facing. Most individuals fit in to any situation because they are secure with their own identity. Other are insecure in their identity and choose to constantly change or adapt to a new specific fashion identity. These changes include fluctuating physical appearance of an entire body, or changing names to restart a new life. In the International Journal of Human Science Stryker states “Identity is the social position that the self not only possesses but also internalizes” (Huseyin, Arikan). This means individuals cannot discover the meaning of a social phenomenon by self-examination. One must, for this determination, go outside one’s self and engage in the essential same kind of firsthand review that is necessary if an individual is to understand anything uncovered outside one’s own mind. Above all, society establishes itself by its intimidating power.
Looking into the social phenomenon a individual’s eyes observe people in many ways and a few are through color, body language, and facial expressions. Once these observations are made it is up to education...