The Things They Carried

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The Things They Carried

SettingVietnam WarNov. 1, 1955- Apr. 30, 1975 O'Brien's war stories take place during the Vietnam War- a long-lasting conflict between North Vietnam and South Vietnam. The United States military allied with South Vietnam and lost about 58,000 American troops to the violence. Small Town America Some of the sory takes place in the hometowns of the soldiers, away from the war, to give teh soldiers some humaity. These places include familiar restaurants like Dairy Queen and A&W, movie theaters, and family homes.

The Things They Carried

By: Tim O' Brien

Anna ParreiraHonors Eng II~Period 76 December 2015

Kiowa The young Native American man in the Alpha company played as a major symbol in O'Brien's war stories. Throughout the trials of the war, Kiowa remains a good-heat=rted, respectful soldier- even towards the Vietnamese. He and O'Brien share a special friendship, as Kiowa is always there for Tim when he needs comfort. Overall, he really is the stabilizing piece of teh Alpha Company, adn he can get anyone to let their feelings out. In a strange turn of events, Kiowa is caught and killed out in a sewage dump. For someone so faultless to die in such an unhonorbale way shows that war can strip almost anything of its deserved dignity.

Bob "Rat" Kiley Nineteen- year old Kiley was best known for his vivid storytelling- a way to keep his mind off of the stress of war. He had a way of overexaggerating that kept good humor among the men in the Alpha Company. As the medic, Rat interacted with all of the men in his platoon. With his storytelling and medical capabilities, Kiley was able to mend more than just the physical wounds. At one point in the war, Rat Kiley's best friend is killed, and he has a hard time dealing with it. He copes with his emotions by killing a baby buffalo and spending the night alone, crying over the loss of his comrade. Soon after, Kiley is back to his old self, slowly healing. However, when the company is assigned a deathly mission, Kiley opts out by shooting himself in the foot and leaving the war for it. Rat Kiley's character shows the toll that can stress can take on someone's person, and the beauty of innocence.

Lieutenant Jimmy Cross Cross was just a sophomore in college when he decided to join his buddies and earn a few extra credits by joing the ROTC. His position as platoon leader encumbered him with the responsibilty of his company. He was not fit for his superior role; he had no understanding of the war or how to adjust the structure of operations to his men and their environment. Jimmy's love for Martha, a US girl who had no interst for him, often hindered his ability to serve the men in the Alpha Company. HIs frequent daydreams kept his head out of the war, especially at the most vital of times. After Ted Lavender was killed, Cross put the burden of blame on himself and went through a destructive emotional state. He burned the pictures of Martha and tried to alter his mindset to better his leadersip skills. While he never attached himself to his men, his position did hold their repect. Jimmy Cross's role in the story shows the significance of fulfilling responsibility and the emotional damage it can cause.

"How crazy it was that people who were so incredibly alive could get so incredibly dead."(O'Brien223)

"He had loved Martha more than his men, and as a consequence Lavender was now dead, and this was something he would have to carry like a stone in his stomach for the rest of the war." (O'Brien16)

"He wanted to heat up the truth, to make it burn so hot that you would feel exactly what he felt. For Rat Kiley, I think, facts were formed by sensation..."(O'Brien89)

The truth is only what's felt.

ReviewI give this book a four out of five stars. Tim O'Brien used vivid imagery to not only create a scene in the reader's mind, but also to express the emotion the soldiers were feeling. The panel of characters was diverse which made the story seem much more realistic than if they'd all been essentially the same person. They each responded to their struggles differently, and I found it intriguing to see the war from the different points of view. The storyline was interesting and kept a good pace, however his constant use of repitition soon became annoying. I did not like how he skipped around the parts of the story because it was often confusing and hard to follow. Overall, I enjoyed the piece and found it much more informative and entertaining than reading a book solely about the Vietnam War.

"...And for all the ambiguities of Vietnam, all the mysteries and the unknowns, there was at least the abiding certainty that they wold never be at a loss for things to carry."(O"Brien16)

The author continuously used storytelling as a way for the soldiers in the Alpha Company to relate. Rat Kiley, for example, was known for gathering folks around to listen to his exaggerated tales. These stories brought them together in understanding despite their personality differences. Whether the stories were true, partially true, or completely made up, someone always had a take-away, a connection with it. In today's society, our only connections to our own past, are stories. For instance, the cliche of a grandparent talking about how things were "back in their day" is how our family relates across generations. In the same way, older fairytales and fables relate cultures around the world.

"The thing about a story is that you dream it as you tell it, hoping that then others might dream along with you, and in this way memory and imagination and language combine to make spirits in the head."(O'Brien230)


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