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The Things They Carried Essay

1515 words - 7 pages

In The Things they carried, Tim O’Brien uses a large list of things a soldier carries. Weather it be a good luck charm, chewing gum, gun/ammunition or recreational drugs. This displays a window in to the emotional burdens that all soldier bear. One major burden for these poor soldier is confronting the tension between reality and fantasy. We see the tension in LT Jimmy Cross with his infatuation for Martha. Each day when the soldier made camp or rest he pulls out the letters from Martha and reads them, making sure that they remain well preserved. Cross also carries a tiny pebble in his mouth that Martha sent him. When Ted Lavender was shot, Cross realized that his love for Martha had led him away from the path of reality and had to snap out of the fantasy. Cross then burns the letters and pulls himself together to be there for his men.
Since these soldier are of such a young age the emotions and burdens are highly intensified. The men that were drafted for Vietnam were in their late teens to early twenties. They had absolutely no concept of killing. These young men were students or boyfriends, they had no idea how to handle the loss of a fellow soldier who they have forged a friendship with. The author Tim O'Brien uses details to point out what the experience was like for these young men. To illustrate the fear and cowardice that none of them could admit to. This is something that all of the soldiers had to deal with. Even though they were scared to go out and fight they did so anyway because, it was hard for these men to face the burden of emotion. When Ted Lavender died his fellow soldiers were indeed sad for his loss but, every single one of them was happy that it wasn't them who was dead. They can still live one more day dealing with the fear, cowardice and emotional burden of every day life in Vietnam. Or maybe some one them wished is was them laying there dead, not having to deal with it anymore.
Morris 2
Another tension in this book is the loneliness and isolation. O’Brien talks about how loneliness and isolation are two of the most lethal things in the war. In “How to Tell a True War Story.” Mitch Sanders' tells the story about the group of soldier out on a listening patrol who started to hear strange things while waiting in the brush. These soldiers were in total isolation even though they were not alone. During the listening patrols the soldiers could not speak a word to each other. All they had to do was listen and it did not help that the mist of the mountains were so thick it enveloped them making it feel more isolated. Sanders' story emphasizes that the human imagination can run wild in the lonely silence. Another form of isolation for the soldiers is begin away from home soil. As mentioned before most of these soldiers are in their late teen to yearly twenties. These men were pulled away from family or girlfriends and sent to fight a war far from home. Some of those soldier never heard...

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