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The Things They Carried Essay

2795 words - 11 pages

After the devastation that World War II left the world, no one wanted to go into another war. Families lost their members, countries lost their dignity, and some soldiers were left with the moments of war forever in their minds. However, the concern that communism was going to spread made Vietnam become the longest war in American History. During this time a lot of young people were anti-war, they were sick of losing people they loved to violence. Though the war still needed to be fought so men became soldiers freely or because they were drafted. In the story “Things They Carried”, soldiers are faced head on with the Vietnam War. Tim O’Brien shows how the men carry the weight of physical objects through out the war. The men bog themselves down with physical objects that they do not necessarily need yet, they can drop them at anytime. On the other hand, it is the emotional baggage the soldiers carry that makes the most weight. One of the biggest emotions the soldiers carry is fear, because they are constantly in danger of war. Fear can cause more than just terror and panic, but cowardliness as well. Even through all soldiers hold emotional baggage, what separates them is what each one carries with them or does to help them deal with the emotions. However, what Jimmy Cross carries with him only makes his emotions dig deeper into him and causes him to carry more guilt and pain than any other soldier in the story.
The frightful sounds of war can make any human being shiver. Bullets constantly flying through the air, right over soldiers’ heads can make them petrified. Grenades being tossed over from beyond a soldier’s sight can make them panic. Bombs being dropped from above can cause a soldier to want to run for cover. Mark D. Van Ells states, “Fear is the most common emotion associated with combat” (Van Ells 1). The fear of war begins for a soldier before they even get deployed. Every soldier hears the horror stories of war but never really understands till they are in war themselves. In the short story, “The Things They Carried” all the soldiers are constantly dreading every second. For example it is not good news when a high command orders the soldiers to search the tunnel before having to blow them up. No one knows what is going to be in the tunnels and for the lucky ones that do not have to search the tunnels still feel the panic. The soldiers kneel down facing away from the tunnel. The fear causes them to think of anything that is down there such as, “cobwebs and ghosts” (O’Brien 103). However, the soldier that is not so fortunate crawls down into the hole shoving him self deeper into the ground. Worry and concern drips over him as he starts to think what if the flashlight dies, or if the rats have rabies, or what if a he gets stuck in the tunnel can the other soldiers rescue him? Fear can get the best of soldier and cause them not to be the best soldier they can be. Apprehension can weigh a soldier down mentally and physically. It can cause a...

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