The Importance of Friendship in The Things They Carried
The Things They Carried is a collection of stories about the Vietnam War that the author, Tim O’Brien, uses to convey his experiences and feelings about the war. The book is filled with stories about the men of Alpha Company and their lives in Vietnam and afterwards back in the United States. O’Brien captures the reader with graphic descriptions of the war that make one feel as if they were in Vietnam. The characters are unique and the reader feels sadness and compassion for them by the end of the novel. To O’Brien the novel is not only a compilation of stories, but also a release of the fears, sadness, and anger that he has felt because of the Vietnam War.
One of the significant concepts in The Things They Carried is that of the importance of certain objects or feelings used by the soldiers of Alpha Company to survive the war. Some examples of these items are the picture of the girl carried by Jimmy Cross, the Bible carried by Kiowa, and the stockings carried by Henry Dobbins. All the items helped the respective soldier to survive from day to day and to continue fighting the war. One of the most important things that helped the soldiers is their friendship with each other. This bond that the soldiers form helped them to survive, excluded someone who was outside their group, and helped the men of Alpha Company to cope with the war after they returned to the United States.
The bond that men form with each other in the heat of battle is incomprehensible to those who have not experienced warfare for themselves.
It’s a hard thing to explain to somebody who hasn’t felt it, but the resence of death and danger has a way of bringing you fully awake. It makes things vivid. When you’re afraid, really afraid, you see things you never saw before, you pay attention to the world. You make close friends. You become part of a tribe and you share the same blood – you give it together, you take it together. (O’Brien, 220)
This bond of friendship helps the men of Alpha Company survive on a day to day basis. They rely on each other for entertainment to drone out the monotony of the days. With hours and hours of marching and no action the men need a release or the boredom would drive them crazy. An example of this is “Kiowa teaching a rain dance to Rat Kiley and Dave Jensen, the three of them leaping around barefoot while a bunch of villagers looked on with a mixture of fascination and giggly horror” (O’Brien, 39). These men looked to each other for emotional support and reassurance since none was coming from the homefront. The men of Alpha Company trusted each other with their lives. Dave Jensen and Lee Strunk are a good example of this trust, “In late August they made a pact that if one of them should ever get totally fucked up – a wheelchair wound – the other guy would automatically find a way to end it” (O’Brien, 71). This pact helps these two in that they know that...